Traditional Chinese medicine shows promise in treating lung cancer

The chemical berberine, found in barberry root (shown above), is believed to have health-promoting properties.

The natural compound berberine, found in plants such as gold seal and barberry, is a treatment for lung diseases.

According to a recent study, the natural compound berberine, which is found in plants such as gold seal and barberry, inhibits the growth of lung cancer cells in the laboratory. It also reduces airway inflammation and reduces damage to healthy lung cells exposed to toxins from cigarette smoke.

About 1.8 million deaths from lung cancer are reported each year, making it the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Chronic inflammation increases the risk of lung cancer and other disorders including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.

Berberine has shown therapeutic benefits for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. “We were keen to explore its potential to suppress lung cancer and reduce inflammation,” says lead researcher Dr Kamal Dua, senior lecturer in pharmacology at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

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Dr. Kamal Doaa in the laboratory of the University of Technology in Sydney. Credit: Barnaby Downes/UTS

In a study recently published in the journal, PharmaceuticalsThe effect of berberine on non-small cell lung cancer was evaluated. It shows that berberine has significant anticancer activity, which inhibits the growth of cancer cells in vitro.

By evaluating the mRNA levels of tumor-related genes and their protein expression levels, the potential mechanism of action for anti-cancer efficacy was identified. showed that berberine regulates proteins involved in the migration and proliferation of cancer cells while regulating genes known to reduce tumor growth.

The study is a follow-up to research led by Dr. Dua and recently published in the journal Antioxidants It demonstrated that berberine may inhibit oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, and slow down cellular senescence induced by cigarette smoke extract in healthy human lung cells cultured in vitro.

Professors Phil Hansbro, Brian Oliver, Bikash Manandhar and Keshav Raj Poodle were members of the research team. International colleagues from Qassim University in Saudi Arabia and International Medical University in Malaysia also contributed.

Dr. Dua’s focus is to explore the therapeutic potential of traditional medicinal plants and how their active compounds work at the cellular level. He has a multifaceted research background with expertise in drug delivery technology, biomedical sciences, immunology and microbiology.

Berberine has long been used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, however, its therapeutic benefits have been limited by its lack of water solubility and intestinal absorption, as well as toxicity at high doses.

To overcome these challenges, Dr. Dua has developed the use of liquid crystal nanoparticles, an advanced drug delivery system that encapsulates berberine into small, soluble, biodegradable polymer spheres to enhance safety and efficacy.

Decades of research have shown that cigarette smoke is toxic to lung cells, causing bronchitis and accelerating the development of diseases such as cancer, COPD, and asthma.

Researchers have found that berberine inhibits the production of inflammatory chemicals, called reactive oxygen species, that cause harmful effects to cells. They also modulate genes responsible for inflammation, oxidative stress, and reduce premature cell aging.

Dr Dua is now discussing and working closely with the Sydney-based companies to take this research to the next level and determine the best formulation and delivery system for these nanoparticles so that they can be translated to the bedside.

References: “Evaluation of the cytotoxic efficacy and anti-migratory effect of a liquid crystalline berberine-phytantriol nanoparticle formulation on in vitro non-small cell lung cancer” by Abdullah Muhammad Al-Nogaidan, Abdul Majeed Al-Matari, Muhammad Azam, Bakash Manandhar, Gina. Hugh Sweet Yen, Lee Lee Yen, Thyagarajan Madiswaran, Keshav Raj Poudel, Philip M Hansbro, Dinesh Kumar Chellapan and Kamal Dua, 24 May 2022, Pharmaceuticals.
DOI: 10.3390 / pharmaceutics14061119

“Attenuation of cigarette smoke-induced oxidative stress, aging and inflammation by perrine-loaded liquid crystalline nanoparticles: an in vitro study in 16HBE and RAW264.7 cells” by Keshav Raj Poodle, Nisha Panth, Bikash Manandar, Sachin Kumar Singh, Gaurav Gupta, and Peter R. Witch, Srinivas Nami, Ronan McLoughlin, John Adams, Majid Ebrahimi Warkiani, Dinesh Kumar Chelapan, Brian J Oliver, Philip M Hansbro and Kamal Dua, 28 Apr 2022, Antioxidants.
doi: 10.3390/antioxidant 11050873

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