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Natural Plant Could Help Cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease

A natural defense that helps plants ward off insect predators could lead to better crops and new treatments for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, as discovered by NIFA-supported researchers at Washington State University (WSU). As the building blocks of our bodies, proteins play important roles in plant and animal health. Special enzymes called proteases destroy proteins and must be carefully controlled to avoid problems like disease and early aging. Researchers found that when a seedling emerges from soil, inhibitors shut down and protease levels rise. When an insect tries to eat the plant, the protease attacks its digestive enzymes, causing the insect to seek a different meal.

Chief researcher Sachin Rustgi suggested a better understanding of protease activity could also improve human health. His findings reveal new insights on cancer progression and could lead to new therapies for cancer and other diseases.

Read more from WSU about Mouse ear cress.

Want to read about more impacts like this? Check out Fresh from the Field, a weekly bulletin showcasing transformative impacts made by grantees funded by NIFA.
 

Farm Bill Priority Areas
Plant health, production, and products;
Agriculture systems and technology;
Animal health and production and animal products;
Bioenergy, natural resources, and environment;
Food safety, nutrition, and health
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