A compound extracted from the Christmas berry primrose plant could halt the growth of a rare eye cancer.

The study, published in the journal Molecular Cancer Research, involved researchers at the Thomas Jefferson University in the USA testing whether the plant compound known as FR can block a particular type of G protein found in the cells of uveal melanoma. When the cancerous cells were treated with small amounts of the plant compound, the cells appeared to revert to melanocytes, their normal state.

Jeffrey Benovic, a professor at the university, said: ‘If the results are confirmed in animal models and eventually humans, it could offer a new way to treat metastatic uveal melanoma patients down the road. I’m hopeful FR and related compounds will reset the cancer cells in the mouse model as it did in the cells we grew in the lab, getting it one step closer to testing in humans.’