Scientists in China have shown how arsenic destroys deadly blood cancer.
Well-known for its toxicity, arsenic has been used for at least 2,000 years in traditional Chinese medicine. In 1992, a group of Chinese doctors reported use of arsenic to treat acute promyelocytic leukemia, a blood and bone marrow cancer.
But the process remained a mystery until this week. In a paper published in the journal Science, Zhang Xiaowei at the State Key Laboratory of Medical Genomics in Shanghai and colleagues described how arsenic attacked specific proteins that would otherwise keep the cancer alive and well.