DEC 28, 2020 11:44 AM PST

How an Herbal Compound May Fight Pancreatic Cancer

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

For centuries, Chinese practitioners have used herbs to treat all kinds of ailments. New research has shown that one of those herbs, thunder god vine, contains a compound that could have anti-pancreatic cancer properties. Pancreatic cancer kills around 47,000 Americans every year.

Image credit: Pixabay

For centuries, thunder god vine has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat swelling and pain in the joints, autoimmune diseases, fever, and other health issues. Reporting in the journal Oncogenesis, research showed that a compound called triptolide, which is found in thunder god vine, can kill cancer cells. Triptolide is the basis for a medication called Minnelide.

Minnelide is a water-soluble prodrug (prodrugs are metabolized into their pharmacologically active form after being ingested). Minnelide seems to attack pancreatic cells and the stroma, a protective shield surrounding the cancerous cells that keeps immune cells from attacking.

Triptolide appears to act by disrupting so-called super-enhancers, regions of DNA that help maintain stability in the genomes of cancer cells and their associated fibroblasts, which help create the surrounding stroma.

"The cancer cells rely on super-enhancers for their growth and survival. We found that by disrupting these super-enhancers, triptolide not only attacks the cancer cells but also the stroma, which helps accelerate cancer cell death," said one of the senior study authors, Dr. Haiyong Han, a Professor with the Translational Genomics Research Institute's (TGen) Molecular Medicine Division.

"While triptolide has been known to be a general transcriptional inhibitor and a potent antitumor agent, we are the first to report its role in modulating super-enhancers to regulate the expression of genes, especially cancer-causing genes," added Han.

"There is an urgent need to identify and develop treatment strategies that not only target the tumor cells, but can also modulate the stromal cells," said study co-author Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, TGen Distinguished Professor. "Based on our findings, using modulating compounds such as triptolide to reprogram super-enhancers may provide means for effective treatment options for pancreas cancer patients."

There are more than 100 bioactive ingredients in thunder god vine, which is native to China, Japan, and Korea.

Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! via The Translational Genomics Research Institute, Oncogenesis

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
NOV 01, 2020
Plants & Animals
Plant Hormone Auxin Helps Orient Growth of Plant Veins
NOV 01, 2020
Plant Hormone Auxin Helps Orient Growth of Plant Veins
There are veins in plants that move nutrients and other important molecules around. These veins have to be carefully org ...
NOV 23, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Vibrations in Coronavirus Proteins Help Them Infect Cells
NOV 23, 2020
Vibrations in Coronavirus Proteins Help Them Infect Cells
If a key isn't cut quite right, it might need a special jiggle to get it into a lock in the right way. Scientists have n ...
DEC 07, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
An Autoimmune Link to Heart Disease is ID'ed
DEC 07, 2020
An Autoimmune Link to Heart Disease is ID'ed
CNIC researchers have found that there is an autoimmune link to cardiovascular disease that may improve diagnostic and t ...
DEC 27, 2020
Immunology
Thymus Transplantation?! It Could be Possible!
DEC 27, 2020
Thymus Transplantation?! It Could be Possible!
The thymus is an essential organ of the lymphatic system; it is responsible for developing mature T cells. T c ...
DEC 24, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
After Chromosomes Shatter, Cancer Cells Can Become Drug-Resistant
DEC 24, 2020
After Chromosomes Shatter, Cancer Cells Can Become Drug-Resistant
Many types of cells have to be replenished throughout our lives, and cells divide to replace those that are damaged or w ...
DEC 25, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Immune Protein Has a Surprising Role in Cell Adhesion
DEC 25, 2020
Immune Protein Has a Surprising Role in Cell Adhesion
During development, cells multiply to grow the animal, and those cells have to organize properly and differentiate into ...
Loading Comments...