Berberine made from plants shows promise

Share on Pinterest
New lab experiments suggest the plant compound berberine may help fight lung cancer. Image credit: DeAgostini/Getty Images.
  • Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer in the world, with 1.8 million people dying from the disease in 2020.
  • Researchers from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) have found that a plant compound was effective in stopping the growth of lung cancer cells in the laboratory.
  • The researchers plan to further test their findings in preclinical animal models of lung cancer.

Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer in the world. There were more than 2.2 million new lung cancer diagnoses worldwide in 2020. And that same year, around 1.8 million people died from lung cancer globally.

Although 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 has found that a natural plant-based compound called berberine stops the growth of lung cancer cells in the laboratory.

The authors report the findings in a recent article in the journal Pharmacy.

Berberine is a natural plant compound used in Traditional Chinese Medicine For thousands of years. It can be found in a variety of plants, including barberry, goldenseal, Oregon grape, and tree turmeric.

Over the years, research has shown berberine to be effective in helping people with Type 2 diabetes regulate their glucose levels, and that it helps treat metabolic syndrome.

Researchers have also identified berberine as a therapeutic potential for different types of cancers, including ovarian cancer, gastric cancer and breast cancer.

According to Dr. Kamal Dua, Lecturer in Pharmacy and Principal Investigator, Australian Center for Research in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM), Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney (UTS), and senior author of this study, berberine inhibits two key processes in cancer progression: cell proliferation and migration.

“Mechanically, this is possible through the inhibition of key genes such as P53, PTEN and KRT18 and proteins such as AXL, CA9, ENO2, HER1, HER2, HER3, PRGN, PDGF-AA, DKK1, CTSB, CTSD, BCLX , CSF1, and CAPG associated with cancer cell proliferation and migration,” he explained.

For this ongoing study, a research team including Dr. Dua, Dr. Keshav Raj Paudel, Professor Philip M. Hansbro and Dr. Bikash Manandhar from UTS, along with collaborators from the International Medical University of Malaysia and from Qassim University in Saudi Arabia, investigated how berberine could be used to treat lung cancer.

“Because berberine has poor solubility and bioavailability, its clinical application is limited,” Dr. Dua explained for DTM. “The main purpose of this study is to improve the physico-chemical parameter of berberine by formulating it into liquid crystalline nanoparticles and to investigate its anticancer potential in vitro against human adenocarcinomic alveolar-basal epithelial cells, A549.”

The research team developed an advanced drug delivery system that encapsulates berberine in tiny dissolvable, biodegradable balls. These liquid crystals nanoparticles have been used to treat human lung cancer cells in vitro outside the body in a laboratory environment.

At the end 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 invading bacteria and other stressful events that can damage cells.

Additionally, berberine helped modulate genes involved in oxidative stress and inflammation, and also helped reduce cellular senescence.

“We have proven that by using the nanotechnology approach, it is possible to improve the property of compounds with various problems related to solubility, cellular uptake and therapeutic efficacy,” explained Dr. Dua. “Compared with other publications using a high dose of the pure compound berberine to show anticancer potential, our berberine liquid crystalline nanoparticles showed the same activator at a five-fold lower dose, clearly showing the benefit of the nanoformulation.”

To further test these findings, Dr. Dua said he plans to use a new research platform to conduct extensive studies using preclinical animal models of lung cancer.

“Additional pharmacokinetic and anticancer studies of berberine nanoformulations in ‘in vivo’ animal models could elucidate its potential benefits in the treatment of lung cancer and develop it as a therapeutic dosage form,” he explained.

“Once we have validated the anticancer potential of the berberine nanoformulation in a preclinical animal model, the next step would be to move into clinical trial where we are already in discussions with a few Sydney-based companies,” noted Dr. Due to. .

Additionally, Dr. Dua said the potential for using berberine to prevent lung cancer from recurring needs validation: “While we haven’t studied this yet, we plan to do so as part of future studies, and we also believe that the nanoformulation of berberine will show promising activity.

Dr. Osita Onugha, thoracic surgeon and assistant professor of thoracic surgery at the Saint John’s Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., said DTM it’s always promising when researchers find new options for cancer treatment and prevention:

“Berberine is part of Eastern medicine, so it’s not something we traditionally use in Western medicine. I think it’s interesting and intriguing because […] we look at things [we] know to have advantages in oriental medicine, [and are putting them] in a study [to] help translate it into Western medicine.

“It’s still promising, but it’s in a lab and a lot of the things we find in a lab don’t necessarily translate to treating patients,” Onugha continued. “I think the next thing to do is […] conduct clinical trials on patients […] and determine the dosage.

Comments are closed.