U.S. medical scientists have used daisy-like plants to develop an easily ingested compound that might be used in treating leukemia patients.

The compound, developed at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York, has proven successful in laboratory studies, with clinical trials expected to begin in England by the end of the year.

The Rochester team has been developing the compound for nearly five years and to bring it from a laboratory concept to patient studies in such a short period of time is very fast progress in the drug development world, said Craig Jordan, senior author of the research and director of Translational Research for Hematologic Malignancies at the university's Wilmot Cancer Center.

The compound consists of dimethylamino-parthenolide, or DMAPT, a form of parthenolide that is derived from a daisy-like plant known as feverfew or bachelor's button. DMAPT is a water-soluble agent that scientists believe will selectively target leukemia at the stem-cell level, where malignancies begin.

Such a process, said the researchers, is significant because standard chemotherapy doesn't strike deep enough to kill cancer at the roots, thus resulting in relapses.

The study is reported in the journal Blood.