A new study reported in Daily Digest News and published in the American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology concluded that pancreatic cancer cells may be killed by a Chinese herbal extract. A protein known as GPR78 is abundant in cancer cells, compared to normal cells, and is responsible for prevention cells from being destroyed. It is believed this protein helps the pancreatic cancer cells survive despite treatment. Using a Chinese extract from the herb Tirpterygium wilforti, known as triptolide, researchers found it potentially suppresses GRP78, and inevitably cause the death of pancreatic cancer cells. Researchers discovered that the “unfolding protein response (UPR)” that helps boost the cell’s protein-folding ability that allows it to function properly-worked well in triptolide-treated cells, leading to cell death in malfunctioning cells. Researchers further said “Our study shows that although increased expression of GRP78 confers a survival advantage to the tumor cells, prolonged exposure to triptolide induces chronic ER stress, that eventually leads to cell death. In this context, inhibition of GRP78 by activation of the ER stress pathway by triptolide offers a novel mechanism for inhibiting the growth and survival of pancreatic cancer cells.”
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