Seeds Of Life In The Soil

(CBS)
Michelle Miller is a CBS News correspondent based in New York.
Imagine dealing with terminal cancer.

Those facing that dilemma often decide to give up hope.

But there is hope out there, as researchers delve deeper mother nature's pharmacy.

It seems obvious to me, that everything we could possibly need to cure ourselves is right here in front of us.

But, after millions of dollars researching synthetic drugs, pharmaceutical companies are now coming back to nature. And it's already paid off.

Take the remarkable anti-cancer properties found in soil bacteria.

It's helping bone cancer patients at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. In fact, the "dirt drug," as it's been coined, is teamed with a more conventional medicine. And the end result is a boost in its medicinal power.

Scientists are looking for that next drug on the land and in the sea.

The possibilities are endless.

Right now, 60 percent of all cancer drugs come from some source of plant... fungus or living organism.

And the potential for even more is astronomical.

The National Cancer Institute's David Newman says trillions of species out there could have the answers to many more diseases that ail us.

In my reporting, the biggest insight came through a visit to the New York Botanical Garden.

Potential cures in every day plants may seem farfetched, but not when you look at Cycads.

These ancient palms have lived for millions of years, despite a deadly toxin released into its own system.

Somehow, it fights off the poison.

Scientists say that's where the answer lies: learning how nature heals itself.

After all, we share 70 percent of the same genes with plants.

That, in and of itself, is pretty surprising.

  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is an award-winning CBS News correspondent based in New York, reporting for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Her work regularly appears on the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley", "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood". She joined CBS News in 2004.

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