Researchers from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) found a plant compound to be effective at stopping the growth of lung cancer cells in a laboratory setting. Researchers plan to further test their findings in pre-clinical animal models of lung cancer.
While there is currently no cure for lung cancer, scientists are working on treatment options. Some of these scientists are at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), where a new study found a natural herbal compound called berberine stops the growth of lung cancer cells in a laboratory setting.
What is berberine?
Berberine is a naturally-occurring plant compound used in traditional Chinese medicine. It can be found in a variety of plants, including barberry, goldenseal, Oregon grape, and tree turmeric.
Over the years, research shows berberine to be effective in helping people with type 2 diabetes and that it helps treat metabolic syndrome. Researchers have also identified berberine as a potential therapeutic for different types of cancers, including ovarian cancer, gastric cancer, and breast cancer.
According to Dr. Kamal Dua, a senior lecturer in Pharmacy and Senior Research Fellow, Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM), and lead author of this study, berberine inhibits the two key processes of cancer progression - cell proliferation and migration.
Berberine and lung cancer
For this current study, a research team including Dr Dua, Dr Keshav Raj Paudel, Prof Philip M. Hansbro, and Dr Bikash Manandhar from UTS, together with collaborators from the International Medical University in Malaysia and Qassim University in Saudi Arabia, examined how berberine could be used to treat lung cancer.
The research team developed an advanced drug delivery system encapsulating berberine into tiny soluble and biodegradable balls. These liquid crystalline nanoparticles were used to treat human lung cancer cells in vitro outside of the body in a laboratory setting. At the conclusion of the study, the research team found that berberine helped stop the creation of reactive oxygen species - inflammatory chemicals generated during certain cellular responses to the invasion of bacteria and other stressful events that can damage cells.