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September 4, 2009

Chlorophyllin-chemo cocktail proposed

Chlorophyllin-chemo cocktail proposed

A report published in the November, 2009 issue of the International Journal of Cancer describes research conducted at Oregon State University's Linus Pauling Institute that reveals a potential role in cancer therapy for chlorophyllin, a water-soluble derivative of chlorophyll, the green pigment that gives plants their color. The compound has been investigated for cancer prevention as well as treatment.

Linus Pauling Institute's Cancer Chemoprotection Program director Rod Dashwood and his associates tested the effect of chlorophyllin on cultured human colon cancer cells. They observed that the cells spent more time in their synthesis phase, resulting in a disruption in growth that led to cell death.

The researchers discovered that chlorophyllin reduces an enzyme needed for DNA synthesis known as ribonucleotide reductase. The enzyme is also targeted by the chemotherapy drug hydroxyurea. Comparison of chlorophyllin and hydroxyurea's effects revealed a ten times greater benefit for chlorophyllin against colon cancer cells. The finding suggests a role for chlorophyllin in combination with conventional cancer treatment, which could enable the administration of a lower dose of potentially toxic chemotherapeutic drugs. “In cancer research right now there’s interest in approaches that can reduce ribonucleotide reductase,” Dr Dashwood noted. “At the doses used in our experiments, chlorophyllin almost completely stops the activity of this enzyme.”

"Put simply, chlorophyllin seems to prevent the enzyme from being made, whereas hydroxyurea acts on already synthesized enzyme to block its activity," Dr Dashwood told Life Extension. "Thus, the two together could be very effective for targeting this pathway in cancer cells."

Recent research has uncovered a role for other natural compounds known as organoseleniums in fighting cancer. These selenium compounds, found in garlic and Brazil nuts, metabolize to histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors in cancer cells, which reactivate silenced tumor-suppressor genes.

“Most chemotherapeutic approaches to cancer try to target cancer cells specifically and do something that slows or stops their cell growth process,” Dr Dashwood observed. “We’re now identifying such mechanisms of action for natural compounds, including dietary agents. With further research we may be able to make the two approaches work together to enhance the effectiveness of cancer therapies.”

“Whether it’s HDAC inhibition leading to one manner of cancer cell growth arrest, or loss of ribonucleotide reductase activity leading to another, as seen with chlorophyllin, there’s significant promise in the use of natural products for combined cancer therapies,” he noted. “These are areas that merit continued research.”

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Health Concern Life Extension Highlight

Cancer chemotherapy

Anticancer drugs destroy cancer cells by stopping them from growing or dividing at one or more points in their growth cycle. Chemotherapy may consist of one or several cytotoxic drugs that kill cells by one or more mechanisms. The chemotherapy regimen chosen by most conventional oncologists is based on the type of cancer being treated. There are factors other than the type of cancer that can be used to determine the ideal chemotherapy drugs that should be used to treat an individual patient.

The goal of chemotherapy is to shrink primary tumors, slow the tumor growth, and kill cancer cells that may have spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body from the original, primary tumor. However, chemotherapy kills both cancer cells and healthy normal cells. Oncologists try to minimize damage to normal cells and to enhance the cell killing (cytotoxic) effect on cancer cells. Too often, unfortunately, this delicate balance is not achieved.

Clinical studies show that, for certain types of cancer, chemotherapy prolongs survival and increases the percentage of patients achieving a remission. A partial remission is defined as 50% or greater reduction in the measurable parameters of tumor growth as may be found on physical examination, radiologic study, or by biomarker levels from a blood or urine test. A complete remission is defined as complete disappearance of all such manifestations of disease. The goal of all oncologists is to strive for a complete remission that lasts a long time--a durable complete remission, or CR. Unfortunately, the vast majority of remissions that are achieved are partial remissions. Too often, these are measured in weeks to months and not in years. Some types of cancer do not show any meaningful response to chemotherapy.

Conventional chemotherapy drugs too often show limited efficacy. Yet there is evidence indicating that the cancer cell-killing effects of these drugs can be enhanced if additional compounds are administered to the patient.

Life Extension Magazine September 2009 issue now online

Life Extension magazine September, 2009

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