Scientists at a Midland university believe the humble milk weed plant could be used to treat cancer patients.
Sap from the weed, also known as petty spurge (Euphorbia peplus), is already used to treat corns and warts.
Native to Europe, it is often found in domestic gardens, blooms from February to August and produces a milky juice.
But researchers at Birmingham University have found this substance also contains chemicals that can control cell growth and death.
A sample of petty spurge extract was tested against cancer cells taken from eight patients with acute myeloid leukaemia, a particularly aggressive cancer of bone marrow stem cells.
In seven of the eight samples it killed between 56 and 95 per cent of the cancer cells.
The sap activates an enzyme called protein kinase C which triggers controlled cell suicide.