Nov. 18, 2015

Winship researchers tackle difficult-to-treat cancers with non-toxic plants

Photo of Winship researchers tackle difficult-to-treat cancers with non-toxic plants

Clinicians and researchers from Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University are among 180 scientists from 22 countries to find new ways to combat advanced and untreatable cancers and also address the problem of relapse. The group's findings, published in a capstone article on November 18 in a special online issue of Seminars in Cancer Biology, focused on combinations of a significant number of non-toxic chemicals, many of which can be found in plants and foods.

Green tea polyphenols, luteolin in green vegetables, resveratrol in grapes and wine, honokiol in magnolia trees, and genistein in soy are among the many compounds studied by researchers.

"The beauty of the natural compounds is that they can simultaneously target multiple molecular signaling pathways to maximize inhibition of certain tumor promoting genes in cancer cells," says Winship researcher and professor of medical oncology Dong Moon Shin, MD, a senior author of one of the 11 articles in the special issue. "The majority of these dietary compounds derived from plants have a low rate of side effects."

Study authors say, "while current therapies have achieved modest successes in some cancers, significant problems remain with most of our approaches to treatment. In particular, many newer targeted therapies are extremely expensive, highly toxic and not effective for rare types of cancer and advanced cancers. Even when they appear to work, a significant percentage of patients will experience a relapse after only a few months."

Other Winship faculty involved in the studies include: Ruhul Amin, PhD, Jack Arbiser, MD, PhD, Georgia Chen, PhD, Jin-Tang Dong, PhD, Bassel El-Rayes, MD, Omer Kucuk, MD, and Rita Nahta, PhD.

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