A new study from the University of Adelaide revealed that the complex mix of plant compounds used in Traditional Chinese Medicine could kill cancer cells.
The study, published in the journal Oncotarget, showed that the Traditional Chinese Medicine called Compound Kushen Injection (CKI) could trigger the patterns of gene expression that affects the same pathways as western chemotherapy. However, CKI acts on different genes in the same pathway.
"Most Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on hundreds or thousands of years of experience with their use in China," explained Professor David Adelson, Director of the Zhendong Australia - China Centre for the Molecular Basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine and lead author of the study, in a statement. "There is often plenty of evidence that these medicines have a therapeutic benefit, but there isn't the understanding of how or why."
For the study, the researchers applied CKI to breast cancer cells grown in the laboratory. Using high-throughput next generation sequencing technologies, the researchers identified the genes and biological pathways targeted by CKI.
The researchers discovered that the CKI could alter genes that regulate the cell cycle of division and death. By doing so, CKI could change the cell cycle to push cancer cells down to the cell death pathway, therefore killing the cancer cells.
Compound kushen injection is a well-known Traditional Chinese Medicine that is composed of queous extracts from the roots of Kushen (Radix Sophorae Flavescentis) and Baituling (Rhizoma Smilacis Glabrae). CKI contains numerous chemicals including alkaloids, such as matrine and oxymatrine, flavonoids, alkylxanthones, quinones, triterpene glycosides, fatty acids, and essential oils.
Like other Traditional Chinese Medicine, individual compounds of CKI don't have much effect on their own. However, when the compounds are combined together, it can be effective in treating myriad of diseases with potentially lesser side-effects,