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David S. Ettinger, MD, FACP, FCCP


Research Shows Anticancer Potential of Natural Compound Found in Barberry Plants

By: Anna Fanelli
Posted: Monday, July 18, 2022

According to research published in the journal Pharmaceutics, incorporation of berberine, a natural compound found in plants such as barberry and goldenseal, may suppress the proliferation of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells in vitro. Kamal Dua, MD, of the University of Technology Sydney, and colleagues shared the details of their therapeutic approach, which uses an optimized formulation of berberine–phytantriol-loaded (BP) liquid crystalline nanoparticles to provide a new platform for controlled delivery of the drug molecules.

“Berberine has shown therapeutic benefits for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. We were keen to explore its potential in suppressing lung cancer and reducing inflammation,” stated Dr. Dua in a University of Technology, Sydney, press release.

In this study, the BP-based formulation had a favorable particle size and entrapment efficiency rate of 75.31 % and showed a superior drug-release profile. The potential mechanism of action was determined by measuring the mRNA levels of the tumor-associated genes PTEN, P53, and KRT18 and the protein expression levels with a human oncology protein array. When upregulating the mRNA expression of PTEN and P53 and downregulating the mRNA expression of KRT18, BP-based liquid crystalline nanoparticles decreased the proliferation, migration, and colony-forming activity of A549 cells in a dose-dependent manner.

This study highlights the utility of BP-based liquid crystalline nanoparticles in incorporating drug molecules with low gastrointestinal absorption and bioavailability to increase their pharmacologic effectiveness and potency in the treatment of NSCLC. These nanoparticles decreased the expression of proteins related to cancer cell proliferation and migration.

Berberine has long been used in traditional Chinese and Ayruvedic medicine. However, its therapeutic benefits have been limited by its lack of water solubility and absorption in the gut. To overcome these challenges, Dr. Dua and his team developed the use of this advanced drug delivery system that encapsulates berberine in tiny soluble and biodegradable polymer balls to enhance its safety and effectiveness.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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