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Drug derived from traditional Chinese medicine could treat prostate cancer

Published on 14/08/2012

A drug derived from a plant used in traditional Chinese medicine could hold the key to treating prostate cancer.

The ‘Thunder God Vine’ (Tripterygium wilfordii) is native to China, Korea and Japan. The plant has been used for more than 400 years to treat conditions which involve inflammation and an overly active immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and multiple sclerosis.

Celastrol is a drug derived from the Thunder God Vine, and has already shown early promise in treating several diseases like asthma. It is known to suppress the activity of a protein called p23.

Now, new research from Imperial College London shows that p23 independently plays a key role in the way prostate tumours are fuelled by the male hormone testosterone.

Study leader Dr Charlotte Bevan, from Imperial College London, said: "Excitingly, drugs that block p23 such as celastrol have shown early promise in treating several diseases, such as arthritis and asthma, meaning this research is already a step closer to the clinic”.

"The next stage will be to test the effects of such drugs on prostate cancer cells in the lab."

Dr Julie Sharp, senior science information manager at the charity Cancer Research UK, said: "These results provide an alternative route by which scientists could potentially target prostate cancer.

"What's more, p23 has a much more defined role in the cell than HSP90, meaning that drugs that target it could potentially have fewer side effects than HSP90 inhibitors.

"We hope these findings will lead to better treatment options for men with prostate cancer."

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012

Categories:  Medical
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