Image credit: Novartis AG.
Chinese traditional medicine might not be completely useless after all! A drug made from a plant known as the “thunder god vine” (雷公藤, léigōng téng) destroyed pancreatic tumours in mice, according to research released this week.
Mice treated with the compound showed no signs of tumors after 40 days or after discontinuing the treatment, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Cancer Center.
“This drug is just unbelievably potent in killing tumor cells,” said Ashok Saluja, vice chairman of research at the center and the study’s leader, said in a telephone interview. “You could see that every day you looked at those mice, the tumor was decreasing and decreasing, and then just gone.”
The plant, also known as Tripterygium wilfordii, contains triptolide, which earlier studies have shown can cause cancer cells to die. In traditional Chinese medicine, the plant is used as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.
Preparations are now being made to start testing the drug on humans within six months.
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