Is it possible that an illegal drug capable of damaging the central nervous system, impairing the senses, ruining a person’s memory, judgment and coordination–not to mention one that could land the possessor in jail to face a pretty stiff sentence– can actually offer hope in the form of healing to those people who are presently suffering with certain types of blood cancers?

Recent reports indicate that ecstasy, an illegal hallucinogenic drug, may actually contain certain components that could be modified and re-engineered to perform such a huge undertaking that could literally wipe blood cancers off the map for good and take back the death sentence that cancer has imposed upon so many people. Ecstasy entered the club scene several years ago and quickly became one of the more popular illegal drugs among young people. Ecstasy was named in part due to the warm fuzzy euphoric feelings that it produced. Categorized as a methylenedioxymethamphetamine (also referred to as MMDA), ecstasy is a stimulant/hallucinogenic drug. Although now illegal, ecstasy did not always have a jaded past. In fact, the drug was first introduced in 1914 as an appetite suppressant. Ecstasy made a comeback in the 1980s when it was first trialed as an antidepressant. In the last decade, however, the drug has been re-vamped, put into the hands of drug dealers, and has found its way into dance clubs and all night rave parties, not as an appetite suppressant or an antidepressant, but as a drug that has ruined countless young lives.


So, how can a drug responsible for causing such heartache among family members possibly find itself at the heart of something seemingly so good? According to John Gordon, professor of cellular immunology at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, researchers have created hope in the form of revamped methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MMDA) “analogues” that are reported to be 100 times more powerful against lymphoma cells, and another one that is even 1,000 times stronger than the original.

The result

Basically, a kicked up, albeit chemically-engineered, version of ecstasy that has been created with the purpose of destroying the cells of such cancers as lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma.Scientists have long known that ecstasy and other MMDA drugs that similarly affect the brain could possibly hold the long-awaited key to curing a disease that has a history of ravaging bodies, cutting lives too short, and devastating families. In fact, it has also been reported that antidepressants such as Prozac may also contain the properties necessary to keep blood cancer cells from growing. The down side In order to use these drugs for the purpose of killing cancer cells, the dosages would have to be so high that they would actually end up killing the patient instead. However, knowing the lethal level of the drug has provided researchers with a glimmer of hope and also served as the springboard they needed in order to revamp the drug, lower its toxicity level, and make it safe to use in this regard.

How did they do it?

Evidently methlenedioxymethamphetamine is attracted to the fat stored in diseased cells. As a result, the drug attaches itself to the fat, which in turn weakens the cell wall and, like the Itsy Bitsy Spider, the cancer cells are essentially “washed” away.

What does it all mean?

Laboratory findings indicate that leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma cells have been obliterated in test tube research. While this is promising news, the revamped designer drug still needs to be tested on laboratory rats and ultimately on humans. Researchers may be on to something here; however, an actual FDA-approved cure may still be years away. Nevertheless, the news is certainly worthy of excitement because the number of people with cancer–blood cancers in particular–is still on the rise. Most people know firsthand the ravages of cancer–whether you have lost a loved one, a friend, or perhaps you have recently received a diagnosed. Cancer is an evil disease that has cut short the lives of millions of people the world over. While no one is looking to offer up a false sense of hope in this situation, the reality to this hopeful prospect may still be some years in the making. If these many reports are true, and an illegal drug has the power to kill cancer, then ecstasy may have just legitimately earned its name.

Check out Ranya Elguendy’s Beliefnet blog here!

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