A Chinese herb with an evocative name may help abnormal cell growth, recent studies indicate – and therefore could be effective in treating cancer. Thunder god vine has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine as a remedy for rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and lupus, and now scientists at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have figured out how its active ingredient works.
Websites The Med Guru and Syfy News report that Jun O. Liu, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences at Johns Hopkins, authored a study of thunder god vine’s active ingredient, triptolide. Liu managed to stop growth in many different types of cancer cells by giving the cells low doses of triptolide. The substance prevented cancer growth in two ways: first, by blocking RNAPII, one of the enzymes that make RNA, thereby stopping cells from becoming inflamed; and second, by blocking a protein named XPB, which stopped cells from growing.
"Extracts of this medicinal plant have been used to treat a whole host of conditions and have been highly lauded for anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressive, contraceptive and antitumor activities. We've known about the active compound, triptolide, and that it stops cell growth, since 1972, but only now have we figured out what it does," said Dr. Liu.
The findings of the study have been published in Nature Chemical Biology.
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Originally published at GrannyMed