Plant compound effective against lung cancer in laboratory setting

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

While 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 found a natural herbal compound called berberine stops the growth of lung cancer cells in a laboratory setting.

The authors report the results in a paper that recently appeared in the journal Pharmaceutics.

What is berberine?

Berberine is a naturally-occurring plant compound used in traditional Chinese medicineTrusted Source 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 shows berberine to be effective in helping people with type 2 diabetesTrusted Source regulate their glucose levels, and that it helps treat metabolic syndromeTrusted Source.

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

According to Dr. Kamal Dua, a senior lecturer in Pharmacy and Senior Research Fellow, Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM), Faculty of Health at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), and lead author of this study, berberine inhibits the two key processes of cancer progression — cell proliferation and migration.

“Mechanistically, this is possible by 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.