A pest that could still yet prove useful

A weedy grass which originates from America could have properties which might help treat type 2 diabetes and cancer, researchers have said.

Andropogon virginicus, a dense plant which can grow up to seven feet tall, has made its way to Australia and Japan.

For years it has been viewed as a pest because it is extremely hardy, has a high germination rate and thrives in poor soils.

But a team of researchers think they may have found way to use the weed to their advantage.

Lead author Tran Dang Xuan, associate professor in the Transdisciplinary Science and Engineering Program in the Graduate School of Advanced Science and Engineering at Hiroshima University, said: “A. virginicus is an invasive weed that seriously threatens agricultural production and economics worldwide

“However, no solution efficiently utilizing and tackling this plant has been found yet. In this paper, we highlight the potential application of A. virginicus extracts in future medicinal production and therapeutics of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and blood cancer, which can deal with both crop protection and human health concerns.”

Through their investigation, the research team detected high levels of flavonoids, which have significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, in the samples they extracted from the weed.

Further investigation found these chemicals prevented damage to cells, which could help prevent age spots on the skin and prevent type 2 diabetes.

Xuan said: “Although A. virginicus has been considered a harmful invasive species without economic value, its extracts are promising sources of antioxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-tyrosinase, and antitumor agents.”

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