An Herbal Extract Inhibits the Development of Pancreatic Cancer

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Comment: An herb recently found to kill pancreatic cancer cells also appears to inhibit development of pancreatic cancer as a result of its anti-inflammatory properties, according to researchers from the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson. The data were presented at the AACR 100th Annual Meeting 2009 in Denver. Thymoquinone, the major constituent of the oil extract from a Middle Eastern herbal seed called Nigella sativa, exhibited anti-inflammatory properties that reduced the release of inflammatory mediators in pancreatic cancer cells. Nigella sativa seeds and oil are used in traditional medicine by many Middle Eastern and Asian countries. It helps treat a broad array of diseases, including some immune and inflammatory disorders. The researchers used pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) cells, some of which were pretreated with the cytokine TNF-alpha to induce inflammation. Thymoquinone almost completely abolished the expression of several inflammatory cytokines, including TNF-alpha, interleukin-1beta, interleukin-8, Cox-2 and MCP-1. The herb also inhibited the activation and synthesis of NF-kappaB, a transcription factor that has been implicated in inflammation-associated cancer. Activation of NF-kappaB has been observed in pancreatic cancer and may be a factor in pancreatic cancer’s resistance to chemotherapeutic agents.

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