In early 2004, over 150,000 British school children got to read aloud "The Daffodils" a poem by William Wordsworth, in support of the Marie Curie Cancer care foundation. Science has now got down to linking brain cancer and the lowly yet beautiful.

A study published in the latest issue of The FASEB Journal suggests the use of a compound found in daffodil bulbs, narciclasine, could have uses as a therapeutic agent against brain cancers. Researchers at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Brussels, Belgium have found that narciclagsine, markedly reduces cancer cell proliferation and migration of cancerous cells.

"We are planning to move a narciclasine derivative toward clinical trials in oncology within a three to four year period in order to help patients with brain cancers, including gliomas, as well as brain metastases," says Robert Kiss, Ph.D., Laboratory of Toxicology at the Institute of Pharmacy at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Brussels, Belgium. "We hope narciclasine could be given to brain cancer patients in addition to conventional therapies."

The team used computer-assisted techniques to categorize targets for narciclasine in cancer cells. Having found that the optimum potential was the eEF1A elongation factor, the researchers grafted human melanoma brain metastatic cells into the brains of genetically altered mice. The results showed that the mice when treated with narciclasine survived significantly than left untreated. The study significantly points to the belief that narciclasine selectively restrains the propagation of aggressive cancer cells, while avoiding undesirable effects on normal cells. In the near future narciclasine could be used to combat gliomas, and metastases such as melanoma brain metastases.

"Scientists have been digging in odd corners to find effective treatments for brain cancer for decades, and now they've found one in daffodils." said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, "It doesn't mean that you should eat daisies or daffodils for what ails you, but that modern medicinal chemistry can pluck new chemicals from stuff that grows in the garden. This is a good one.