Chokeberry Extract Enhances the Effects of Chemotherapy in Pancreatic Cancer

The humble chokeberry has fascinated nutritionists and fruit lovers from around the world, with its remarkable health benefits. The wild fruit is native to Northern America and is commonly found in wet woodland and swamp areas on the eastern side of the continent. It is nourished with numerous polyphenol antioxidants, which are well-known for their anticancer properties and ability to induce apoptosis, programmed cell death, in cancerous cells. A new study has revealed that chokeberry extract has the potential to boost the effect of chemotherapy drugs used to treat pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is currently the fifth largest killer of cancer in the UK, with less than 5% of patients with the disease surviving to five years. Research on pancreatic cancer has made very slow progress over the years due to the resistant nature of pancreatic cancer cells against chemotherapy and radiotherapy, making treatment options for this deadly disease very limited. Leading researchers at The University of Southampton and Kings College London have conducted a study on the effects of gemcitabine, a conventional chemotherapy drug used against pancreatic cancer cells, in combination with chokeberry extract. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Pathology, was carried out on cultured pancreatic cancer cells known as AsPC-1. The growth of the malignant cells was assessed using differing levels of gemcitabine alone, chokeberry extract alone and a combination of both. Results showed that a combination of the two substances was highly effective in destroying the cancerous cells. Increasing concentrations of the chokeberry extract enhanced the effectiveness of gemcitabine inducing greater cell death, compared to treatment with gemcitabine alone. The chokeberry extract alone had no effect on the cancer cells or on the healthy body cells, which were used as a control for the study.

The findings of the study are a breakthrough in cancer research and scientists suggest that chokeberry extract should be considered as part of treatment plans for pancreatic cancer. However, the research was only carried out on refined cells within a laboratory and human trials are yet to be conducted. For now, scientists warn people with pancreatic cancer against the use of chokeberry extract as a supplement, as the research is still in its early stages and no solid conclusions can yet be drawn. The study does however provide hope for alternate innovative treatment plans for pancreatic cancer in the future.




Original article: Noor Azela Abdullah Thani, Sholeh Keshavarz, Bashir A Lwaleed et al, (2014), Cytotoxicity of gemcitabine enhanced by polyphenolics from Aronia melanocarpa in pancreatic cancer cell line AsPC-1. Journal of Clinical Pathology.


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