The extract from a vegetable that is common in India and China shows promise in triggering a chain of events that kills breast cancer cells and prevents them from multiplying, a Saint Louis University researcher has found.
Ratna Ray, Ph.D., professor in the department of pathology at Saint Louis University and lead researcher, said she was surprised that the extract from the bitter melon she cooks in stir fries inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells.
"To our knowledge, this is the first report describing the effect of bitter melon extract on cancer cells," Ray said. "Our result was encouraging. We have shown that bitter melon extract significantly induced death in breast cancer cells and decreased their growth and spread."
Ray said she decided to study the impact of bitter melon extract on breast cancer cells because research by others have shown the substance lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Bitter melon extract is commonly used as a folk medicine to treat diabetes in China and India, she said.
Ray conducted her research using human breast cancer cells in vitro – or in a controlled lab setting. The next step, she says, is to test bitter melon extract in an animal model to see if it plays a role in delaying the growth or killing of breast cancer cells. If those results are positive, human trials could follow.
While it's too early to know for sure whether bitter melon extract will help breast cancer patients, the question is worth studying, Ray said.
"There have been significant advances in breast cancer treatment, which have improved patient survival and quality of life. However women continue to die of the disease and new treatment strategies are essential," Ray said.
"Cancer prevention by the use of naturally occurring dietary substances is considered a practical approach to reduce the ever-increasing incidence of cancer. Studying a high risk breast cancer population where bitter melon is taken as a dietary product will be an important area of future research," Ray said.
She cautioned against seeing bitter melon extract as a miracle cure for breast cancer.
"Bitter melon is common in China and India, and women there still get breast cancer," Ray said.
The research was published in the March 1 edition of Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: cancer, infectious disease, liver disease, aging and brain disease and heart/lung disease.
Nancy Solomon | EurekAlert!
Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy