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article imageCotton plants provide the basis of an anti-cancer treatment

By Tim Sandle     Jan 19, 2016 in Science
A naturally occurring compound found in the ubiquitous cotton plant, called gossypol, may contain a key chemical that could help to treat prostate cancer. The focus is on tackling cancer at the genetic level.
Scientists based at the University of Kansas Cancer Center found a protein called musashi overexpressed in colorectal cancer. The theory is that elevated levels of musashi triggers abnormal cells to divide and, eventually, for tumors to start growing (through a specific tumor-stimulating pathway.) The protein also seems to facilitates the division of cancer stem cells into cancer cells into cancer cells.
One of the most serious cancers associated with the protein is prostate cancer. Prostate cancer describes the development of cancer in the prostate gland in the male reproductive system. The disease normally develops slowly, with symptoms emerging sometime after the cancer has begun to develop. There are thought to be five different types of this form of cancer.
Based on the fact that the successful cancer drugs block the actions of specific proteins, the U.S. research team have been searching for the appropriate chemical to block the activity of the musashi protein. After several investigations the compound of interest is gossypol, which is isolated from the cotton plant.
Gossypol is a phenolic compound. It is currently being examined as a potential male oral contraceptive in China; it also seems to possess antimalarial properties. To add to this, the new research suggests the compound changes the chemistry within the cancer cell and makes it more susceptible to traditional chemotherapy drugs. Gossypol is not itself a direct anti-cancer agent.
This cancer inhibiting property is based on early stage experiments where a laboratory test called a fluorescence polarization competition assay is deployed. This method showed gossypol to exhibit a strong binding to the musashi protein.
The research into the new compound is published in the journal Molecular Oncology. The research paper is titled “Natural product (−)-gossypol inhibits colon cancer cell growth by targeting RNA-binding protein Musashi-1.”
More about cancer med, Cancer medicine, Cancer treatment, Cancer, Cotton
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