An Edible Plant Component Might Help Treat Acute Myeloid Leukemia

AML

Jianhua Yu, PhD, assistant professor of Medicine and member of the OSUCCC – James Molecular Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program and A. Douglas Kinghorn, PhD, DSc, professor of Pharmacy in the College of Pharmacy and member of the OSUCCC – James Molecular Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program were awarded a Pelotonia idea grant to study an innovative potential treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

The researchers are investigating a compound from plants found in Asia that might offer a less toxic way of treating AML in older patients.  

10,460 Americans are expected to die from AML in 2015. Most of the deaths will be people aged 65 and over, an group that has a survival rate of under 10 percent after five years. The low survival rate persists because older patients are less able to tolerate therapies such as intensive chemotherapy and stem-cell transplantation that are effective in younger patients.

The OSUCCC – James researchers are studying a type of lignin compound called phyllanthusmin C (PL-C) derived from the Asian plant. The researchers have evidence suggesting that PL-C can improve antitumor activity in natural killer (NK) cells, the immune system’s first line of defense against cancer cells and viral infections.

The researchers are using their Pelotonia grant to investigate the mechanisms by which PL-C enhances NK-cell antitumor activity, and they are studying the effectiveness of PL-C in an animal model.  They believe their study might open a new avenue for cancer prevention, and because PL-C can come from an edible plant, their findings could quickly lead to a clinical trial.