Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wild berry extract may boost effect of pancreatic cancer drug

CANCER DIGEST – Sept. 18, 2014 – In a laboratory study, extract of chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) appeared to increase the number of cancer cells killed following an application of a common chemotherapy drug used for a number of cancers.

The study used a well-known line of pancreatic cancer cells (AsPC-1) in the laboratory and tested how well the cells grew when treated with either the chemotherapy drug gemcitabine (Gemzar®) or different levels of commercially available chokeberry extract alone, and when treated with a combination of gemcitabine and chokeberry extract.

The researchers at King's College Hospital and the University of Southampton, UK, found that a dose as little as 1 ug/ml (microgram per milliliter) over 48 hours was effective in increasing the cancer cell-killing effectiveness of the gemcitabine. At the same time, the berry extract had no effect on the normal cells lining the blood vessels indicating that, however the extract was spurring cancer cell death, it was not by preventing new blood vessel formation. The researchers published their findings in the online version of the Journal of Clinical Pathology.

"These are very exciting results. The low doses of the extract greatly boosted the effectiveness of gemcitabine when the two were combined,” Lead Researcher Bashir Lwaleed said in press release. “In addition, we found that lower doses of the conventional drug were needed, suggesting either that the compounds work together synergistically, or that the extract exerts a ‘supra-additive’ effect. This could change the way we deal with hard to treat cancers in the future. "

The team believes that clinical trials are now needed to explore the potential of naturally occurring micronutrients in plants, such as those found in chokeberry.

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