In a recent study from the University of Technology Sydney, scientists found berberine, a natural compound found in plants such as barberry and goldenseal, suppresses the proliferation of lung cancer cells.
It also reduces airway inflammation and damage to healthy lung cells exposed to chemicals from cigarette smoke.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths globally, with around 1.8 million deaths reported annually.
Chronic inflammation is a risk factor for lung cancer and other diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.
Berberine has long been used in traditional Chinese and Ayruvedic medicine; however, its benefits have been limited by its lack of water solubility and absorption in the gut, as well as toxicity at higher doses.
Previous research has found that berberine has benefits for diabetes and heart disease.
In the study, the team found that berberine exhibits potent anticancer activity, suppressing cancer cell growth in vitro.
The potential mechanism of action for anti-cancer activity was determined by measuring the mRNA levels of tumor-associated genes and protein expression levels.
It showed that berberine upregulates tumor suppressor genes, and downregulates proteins involved in cancer cell migration and proliferation.
The study found berberine can inhibit oxidative stress and reduce inflammation and cellular senescence induced by cigarette smoke extract in lab-grown human healthy lung cells.
The team is now in discussion and working closely with Sydney-based companies to take this research to the next level and identify the best formulation and delivery system for these nanoparticles so that they can be translated to the bedside.
The research is published in Pharmaceutics and was conducted by Dr. Kamal Dua et al.
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