Rainforest Vine Compound Starves Pancreatic Cancer Cells To Death

Rainforest Vine Compound Starves Pancreatic Cancer Cells To Death

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Pancreatic cancer cells are recognized for their capability of thriving under tremendous conditions of low oxygen and nutrients, a trait dubbed as “austerity” in the cancer field. The remarkable resistance to starvation by the cells is one factor why pancreatic cancer is so lethal. Now scientists have verified a Congolese plant’s compound that has strong “antiausterity” capability, making cells of pancreatic cancer vulnerable to starvation of nutrients. They report their findings in ACS’ Journal of Natural Products.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most dangerous types of cancer, with a less than 5% of 5-year survival rate. Since these cancer cells reproduce so forcefully, they deplete oxygen and nutrients in the area of the tumor. Whereas most cells might die under these severe conditions, pancreatic cancer cells stay alive by triggering a cell signaling pathway dubbed as Akt/mTOR. Some scientists are experimenting on plants for antiausterity compounds that disturb this pathway. Gerhard Bringmann, Suresh Awale, and colleagues earlier identified some strange alkaloid compounds with capability of antiausterity from vines discovered in the Congolese rainforest.

Speaking of cancer, one of the major hurdles in curing prostate cancer is differentiating men who have potentially lethal and aggressive disease from men whose cancer is unlikely to metastasize and slow-growing. For a long time, PSA (prostate-specific antigen) level, tumor stage, and cancer grade have been employed to arrange patients of prostate cancer into risk groups. These risk groups assist determine course of therapy and are founded by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

But this prolonged practice has drawbacks. “These risk groups were invented years ago and were used for what is dubbed as biochemical reappearance, which only indicates that a PSA level of man rises sometime again after therapy,” claims M.D., assistant professor, and associate chair of research at Michigan Medicine in the Department of Radiation Oncology, Daniel Spratt, to the media in an interview.