The powers of mistletoe, it seems, may go beyond a simple yuletide kiss.

Doctors at Desert Hospital say the plant's medicinal properties are effective in treating advanced cases of lung cancer."It is the least toxic and most effective agent that we have right now for lung cancer," said oncologist Sanford J. Kempin, medical director at Desert Hospital's Comprehensive Cancer Center.

About 100 hospitals nationwide, including Desert Hospital, are participating in clinical trials of Navelbine, a mistletoe derivative produced by Burroughs Wellcome Co.

About 30 percent of the 500 patients treated in the trials have shown significant reductions in tumors and another 5 percent have shown complete remission, Kempin said.

If approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Navelbine would be the first new drug for lung cancer treatment approved in the United States in 20 years, according to Burroughs Wellcome.

Lung cancer kills about 150,000 people a year in the United States.