According to a new study, the threatened Chinese fir tree possesses some compounds with potent cancer-fighting properties. However, it is working only when combined with an existing cancer medication.
As reported by the US National Cancer Institute (NCI), more than 1,7 million individuals were diagnosed with cancer in 2018, while over 600,000 of them died across the United States. By 2030, NCI assesses that more than 24 million cancer cases would occur. Worldwide, cancer is still the leading cause of death.
Therefore, scientists around the world struggle to come up with reliable treatments for cancer. Nonetheless, the cancer therapies evolved significantly in recent years, but we still lack a complete cancer treatment.
Now, according to a new study carried out by researchers from Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, and published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the endangered Chinese fir tree has cancer-fighting properties thanks to some of its compounds.
A compound in the Chinese fir tree has inhibitory properties against SHP2, an enzyme commonly associated with “with breast cancer, leukemia, lung cancer, liver cancer, gastric cancer, laryngeal cancer, oral cancer, and other cancer types,” as the researchers pointed out.
Chinese Fir Tree Has Cancer-Fighting Properties, But In Combination With An Existing Cancer Medication
“SHP2 is one of the most important anti-cancer targets in the pharmaceutical industry right now, for a wide variety of tumors. A lot of companies are trying to develop drugs that work against SHP2,” said Mingji Dai, the study’s leading author, who collaborated with Zhong-Yin Zhang, also a researcher at Purdue University.
Extracted from the Chinese fir tree, “Compound 30,” as the scientists named it, is merging with the SHP2 enzyme, generating “a covalent bond” which was impossible at such a level to achieve by other substances developed to target SHP2. “With other [compounds] it’s a looser binding. Ours forms a covalent bond, which is more secure and long-lasting,” Dai said. The researchers also created a so-called Compound 29 which is only slightly different from the Compound 30.
“Compound 29 alone doesn’t kill cancer, but when you combine it with etoposide, the drug is much more effective. That could improve some of the cancer drugs used today, and it also tells us something new about the function of POLE3,” an enzyme which aids DNA synthesis and repair, Mingji Dai said.
“People weren’t targeting this protein for cancer treatment before, but our findings offer a new strategy for killing cancer cells,” Dai concluded.
Vadim is a passionate writer on various topics but especially on stuff related to health, technology, and science. Therefore, for Great Lakes Ledger, Vadim will cover health and Sci&Tech news.