Lung cancer: Herb that “blocks” the proliferation of cancer cells

Scientists are putting together a new natural weapon against lung cancer after new research findings are already being used in traditional Chinese medicine.

A natural compound called berberine that puts the “brake” on the growth of cancer cells in the lung area is found in the herbs vulgaris, also known as European oxycantha) and Hydrastis the Canadian (Hydrastis canadensis).

According to a new study published in AntioxidantsThe natural compound suppressed the proliferation of lung cancer cells in the laboratory (in vitro), while reducing airway inflammation and damage to healthy lung cells exposed to chemicals from cigarette smoke.

“Berberine has already been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, we wanted to investigate its ability to suppress lung cancer and reduce inflammation,” said lead researcher Dr. Kamal Dua is Senior Lecturer in Pharmacy at the University of Technology Sydney.

To determine the antitumor mechanisms involved in the activity of berberine, mRNA levels and protein expression levels of tumor-related genes were measured. Berberine was found to regulate tumor-suppressor genes while downregulating proteins involved in cancer cell motility and proliferation. In addition, berberine inhibits oxidative stress, inflammation, and cellular aging caused by cigarette smoke extract in healthy lung cells grown in the laboratory.

To facilitate the use of berberine in experiments, Dr. Dua developed the use of liquid crystalline nanoparticles, an advanced drug delivery system, in small soluble and biodegradable polymer beads of berberine to improve their safety and efficacy.

Decades of research have shown that cigarette smoke is toxic to lung cells, causing airway inflammation and accelerating diseases such as cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. Finally, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, with approximately 1.8 million deaths reported annually.

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