If this line of investigation pans out the way the researchers are hoping, the alkaloid the researchers are testing from the daffodil will take its place in a long line of other plant alkaloids used to treat disease and ease pain. The others include morphine, quinine (used to treat malaria), and ephedrine (used to treat asthma).
The plant alkaloid the researchers have extracted from daffodils is called haemanthamine. It fights cancer by binding to ribosomes within cells. Our cells rely on ribosomes to generate proteins, and cancer cells in particular constantly need to churn out proteins in order to keep growing and spreading at such rapid rates. With their ribosomes out of commission, cancer cells can’t keep taking over the body.