Preclinical Findings

Component of Chinese Herbal Remedy Might Block Brain Tumor’s Spread

E Antonio ChioccaThe active ingredient in a traditional Chinese herbal remedy might help treat deadly brain tumors, according to a study by OSUCCC – James researchers.

The laboratory and animal study suggests that a substance called indirubin blocks both the migration of glioblastoma cells, preventing their spread to other areas of the brain, and the migration of endothelial cells, inhibiting the formation of tumor blood vessels.

“We have pretty good methods to stop glioblastoma from growing in the human brain, but these therapies fail because tumor cells migrate from the original site and grow elsewhere in the brain,” says co-principal investigator E. Antonio Chiocca, MD, PhD, professor and chair of neurological surgery and co-leader of the OSUCCC – James Viral Oncology Program.

“Our findings suggest that indirubins offer a novel therapeutic strategy for these tumors that simultaneously targets tumor invasion and angiogenesis,” he says.

Indirubin is derived from the indigo plant. It is the active ingredient in the Chinese herbal remedy called Dang Gui Long Hui Wan, which is used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia. However, little is known about the form or dose used, or its effectiveness, side effects or drug interactions.

“Although indirubin looks promising in animal models, it has not yet been tested in humans, and it is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,” Chiocca cautions.

For other work on glioblastoma cell motility by Chiocca, see Researchers Discover Brain Tumor’s “Grow-or-Go” Switch.

Published in the journal Cancer Research.

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