Imaging/University of Waterloo
By Jacob Koffler
June 16, 2015
TIME Health
For more, visit TIME Health.

Avocados aren’t just Americans’ favorite fruit; they also may contain a key to fighting leukemia.

Molecules derived from avocados have been found to target the stem cells of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), according to a study published in the journal Cancer Research on Monday. The lipid found in avocado joins just a handful of drug treatments available that attack leukemia stem cells directly while leaving healthy cells unharmed.

AML is an aggressive form of cancer that kills 90% of people over 65 who are diagnosed. Drugs that operate on stem cells are the most effective in treating the disease.

“The stem cell is really the cell that drives the disease,” said Professor Paul Spagnuolo, a researcher from the University of Waterloo responsible for the study, in a statement about the paper. “The stem cell is largely responsible for the disease developing and it’s the reason why so many patients with leukemia relapse.”

While the drug is still years away from being approved for market use, Spagnuolo is already preparing it for a Phase I clinical trial.

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