NACOGDOCHES - Dr. Shiyou Li and his team at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches have spent the last two years studying Giant Salvinia. The plant, which typically grows in water, has had experts concerned for years.
"It's not only invasive, it's the host of a fatal disease."
And it's that exact reason, Dr. Li says that he and his team began studying the plant.
"It's a very significant pest. If we can work a pest to crop, that would be very important for us."
It turns out Dr. Li's research may have paid off. By breaking down Giant Salvinia into extracts, the team found the plant can slow down the growth of human tumor cells with minimum damage to normal cells. So far Dr. Li tells KETK the extract is showing promising results for lung cancer, ovarian cancer, breast cancer and even prostate cancer. Shortly after the discovery, Dr. Li says he sent his information to Dr. Bharat Aggarwal with the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
He tells KETK:
"We are very excited about the potential that exists with it, especially in the area of cancer, and I am very optimistic about what could result from this collaboration."
Before the potential drug reaches the hands of patients, more testing has to be done and more money is needed to continue research and Dr. Li says that's what he's waiting on.
"If we get funding, we would like to further animal and clinical, human clinical trials to see if we can develop a cancer drug for treatment."
To find out more information on Dr. Li's research on Giant Salvinia click here.