Feverfew is a common flower easily recognizable either from a home garden or the shelf of the local health store. For hundreds of years it’s been used as a traditional medicine for migraines and other pains, though its actual usefulness in that regard is questionable.
But now, researchers from the University of Birmingham have engineered a compound from the leaves of this plant that might be a potent cancer killer.
The compound in question is called parthenolide, and it’s been under this kind of investigation for years. Scientists have suspected that the compound is an anti-cancer agent, but it’s been hard and expensive to make in useful amounts.
Feverfew and related plants are high in parthenolide, so the Birmingham team started by figuring out the best candidate for extracting the compound. After a few tests, they settled on Feverfew itself, with the highest levels being found at a point late in the flowering cycle.