Two molecules isolated from an extract of crushed pineapple stems have shown promise in fighting cancer growth. One molecule called CCS blocks a protein called Ras, which is defective in approximately 30% of all cancers.
The other, called CCZ, stimulates the body's own immune system to target and kill cancer cells.
It is hoped the research, carried out by Queensland Institute of Medical Research, could lead to new anti-cancer drugs.
The Queensland team discovered that the extract also had pharmacological properties and could activate specific immune cells while, simultaneously, blocking the immune function of other cells.
Dr Julie Sharp, at Cancer Research UK, said: "The origin of many anti-cancer drugs can be found in nature.
"However, it's early days for this research and the real test will be to see if the effects seen in the lab can be reproduced successfully in patients."