Plants and Cancer STEM cells

Dr. Weeks’ Comment:   I came to realize a couple of decades ago, the profound truth which healers of both Eastern and Western tradition have told us which is to look to nature for the cure. About a decade ago, I started teaching that cancer stem cell is the appropriate target instead of the cancer tumor cell. Indeed targeting the cancer tumor cell was dangerous for the health of the cancer patient since it just made the cancer stem cell -the very lethal part of the cancer process – ‘more numerous and more virulent”. Here is yet another example of how the cure can be found with in the plants. Indeed it’s been apparent to me over the decades that you don’t get to be a plant today on earth without having anticancer properties within at some dilute process be you an exotic plant high in the Andes or a lowly back yard dandelion.


Plant substance inhibits cancer stem cells

27 September 2017 Lund University

Lab experiments show that the chemical compound damsin found in the plant Ambrosia arborescens inhibits the growth and spread of cancer stem cells. The similar but synthetically produced ambrosin has the same positive effect, according to researchers at Lund University and University Major of San Andrés in La Paz, Bolivia.

The plant Ambrosia arborescens grows at a high elevation in large parts of South America, and is traditionally used as a medicinal plant. The researchers have isolated the sesquiterpene lactone damsin from the plant and studied its effect on cancer stem cells in three different breast cancer cell lines. They have also performed similar studies using what is known as an analogue called ambrosin – a substance similar to damsin, but produced synthetically. The results show that they both have an effect on cancer stem cells.

“Both the natural and the synthetic substances inhibit the growth and spread of cancer stem cells in breast cancer cell lines. This is the first time that it has been successfully proven by research”, says Stina Oredsson, professor at Lund University.

Already at low concentrations, the two substances inhibit the division and mobility of the cancer cells. This means that the tumour becomes smaller as cell proliferation decreases. In the present study, the researchers show that the actual number of cancer stem cells decreases.

Stina Oredsson emphasises that this is basic research and that the results are based on lab experiments involving cell cultures. However, she argues that the results are a breakthrough in cancer research as it may be the first step towards effective treatment of cancer stem cells, i.e. the cells believed to cause metastases.

“Different cancer cells have different abilities to survive chemotherapy. Cancer stem cells can be considered the most dangerous type of cancer cells, as they appear to have an inherent resistance to the chemotherapeutic drugs used today. Our results can contribute to the development of new drugs against cancer stem cells but, unfortunately, it takes a long time to get from basic research to usable drugs”, says Stina Oredsson.

She and her colleagues continue to study damsin and ambrosin. They have also developed other analogues that show very good inhibitory effects on cancer stem cells. These results have not yet been published.

The collaboration project between Lund University and the University Major of San Andrés in La Paz, Bolivia, is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

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