Amazonian plant has 'tremendous' potential in treating liver

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Amazonian plant has 'tremendous' potential in treating liver

Postby herbsandhelpers » Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:43 pm

Amazonian plant has 'tremendous' potential in treating liver cancer

Indigenous plant Vismia baccifera's leaf extract kills liver tumours in the lab

Triggers cells to 'commit suicide' without harming healthy tissue

Around 5,700 and 42,200 cases of liver cancer occur a year in the UK and US

An Amazonian plant has 'tremendous' potential in treating liver cancer, according to scientists from the University of the Basque Country.

The botanical extract of the indigenous Vismia baccifera leaf kills liver tumours in the lab, a Spanish study found.

V.baccifera triggers cancerous cells into 'suicide' without harming healthy tissue, which causes much of the grueling side effects of chemotherapy.

Human liver cancer cells were treated with an extract of V.baccifera leaf in the lab.

Study author Dr Jenifer Trepiana said: 'Right now, there is huge interest in identifying compounds derived from plants that could be used as chemotherapeutic agents with the capacity to prevent tumours from growing, or to treat metastasis, for example.'

Metastasis occurs when cancer spreads due to the development of tumours away from the disease's original site in the body.

The plant was picked from the Amazonian forest of Florencia, Columbia.

'Indigenous populations use it for its anti-inflammatory properties or for urinary tract disorders or skin diseases, but we chose it because in previous studies we had seen that it is the one with the greatest antitumour capability in liver cancer cells that we have used,' Dr Trepiana said.

Inflammation is thought to cause cancer cells to spread.


Wearing a seat belt reduces people's risk of life-threatening liver damage by more than 20 per cent, research suggested in May 2018.

Among people involved in car crashes, seat-belt wearers are 21 per cent less likely to suffer severe liver injuries, which rises to 26 per cent when combined with an airbag, a study found.

The liver is one of the most commonly injured organs during motor-vehicle collisions, with severe damage killing around 15 per cent of sufferers, the research adds.

Lead author Audrey Renson, from the NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn, said: 'It has been known for some time that seat belt use is associated with lower mortality in a car crash.

'Although some may consider this common sense, there is still some controversy lingering around seat belts possibly being harmful and that having an airbag means you don’t have to wear a seat belt.'

The researchers believe their findings reinforce the importance of seat belts.

Dr Eileen Metzger Bulger, chair of the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma, who was not involved in the study, said the liver and spleen are the most commonly injured organs after motor-vehicle crashes.

She added: 'Both can cause severe bleeding, but the spleen can be removed if needed during surgery, which controls the bleeding.

'The liver (however) is critical for life and cannot be removed.'

Healthy liver cells were also tested 'to see whether or not healthy cells are also affected', she added.

Results, published in the journal Heliyon, suggest V.baccifera is toxic to liver tumour cells.

The Amazonian plant produces substances, such as hydrogen peroxide, that stop these cancerous cells from dividing and damages their DNA.

V.baccifera also triggers such tumours to commit suicide in a process known as apoptosis.

When comparing the plant's effect in cancerous versus healthy cells, 'only the cancer cells were affected; we found that these effects do not take place in healthy human liver cells and, previously, in rat cells', Dr Trepiana said.

'This is of huge interest because the most important thing is that healthy cells should remain unaffected.'

Chemotherapy affects healthy tissues when cells are constantly growing or dividing.

This includes hair, which is always growing; bone marrow, which is constantly producing blood cells; and the skin and digestive lining; which continuously renew themselves.

Other cells are able to replace or repair the healthy cells that are damaged by chemotherapy, according to Cancer Research UK.

Dr Trepiana called the study's results 'tremendously positive', adding: 'The ideal thing would be to take the research further and move towards doing in vivo studies using animal models, to go on passing milestones until it can be used as a therapy against cancer.

'Although we are well aware that it will be a very long road.'

V.baccifera is traditionally used in indigenous populations to relieve disorders of the urinary tract, as well as snake bites.

Around 5,700 and 42,200 new cases of liver cancer occur every year in the UK and US, respectively.

Approximately half of cases are thought to be preventable.

Most incidences occur due to alcohol abuse, or hepatitis B or C infections.

This comes after research released earlier this year suggested sunflower and fish oils can cause liver inflammation that could lead to cancer.

Having either of the two oils every day triggers damage to the organ and makes it susceptible to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASAH), according to a study by the University of Granada.

NASH, considered a silent killer and dubbed 'human foie gras', can lead to scarring of the liver, which in turn causes cirrhosis. It can also result in cancer.

Source: Daily Mail
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