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Chinese Herbal Extracts Carry Potential To Destroy Pancreatic Cancer Cells

Update Date: Jul 02, 2014 08:50 AM EDT

Researchers have found that 'triptolide' - an extract of the Chinese herb thunder god vine - suppresses GRP78 - a protein that protects cells from dying and is more abundant in cancer cells and tissue - eventually leading to pancreatic cancer cell death. 

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death in the U.S.. 

Prior studies have also shown Triptolide causing a negative effect on pancreatic cancer cell viability. It also blocks the growth and spread of these cells. 

The study in question observed the effects of triptolide on human pancreatic cancer cells and tissue. Researchers found that the UPR worked properly in triptolide-treated cells to allow cell death in malfunctioning cells. 

"Our study shows that although increased expression of GRP78 confers a survival advantage to the tumor cells, prolonged exposure to triptolide induces chronic ER stress, which eventually leads to cell death," the authors stated in the press release. "In this context, inhibition of GRP78 by activation of the ER stress pathway by triptolide offers a novel mechanism for inhibiting the growth and survival of pancreatic cancer cells."

The study is published in the journal American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology.

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