Ginseng Compound Fights Oral Cancer Cell Growth and Spread

Greg Howard
28th March, 2024

Ginseng Compound Fights Oral Cancer Cell Growth and Spread

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • In a Hainan Medical University study, ginsenoside Rb1 (GRb1) killed oral cancer cells with less harm to healthy cells
  • GRb1 also showed potential in preventing the spread of oral cancer
  • The compound increased antioxidants in cancer cells, which may protect against damage
Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is a significant health concern, being the sixth most common type of cancer worldwide[2]. Despite advances in treatment, the survival rate for oral cancer has remained relatively unchanged over the past few decades, with late-stage diagnosis and high rates of recurrence posing serious challenges[2]. In an effort to improve outcomes for patients, researchers are continually seeking more effective and less toxic treatment options. A promising avenue of research has been the exploration of targeted therapies, which aim to attack cancer cells more selectively than conventional chemotherapy[3]. These treatments focus on blocking specific molecules involved in tumor growth and spread, such as EGFR and VEGF, which have been linked to the progression of various cancers, including OSCC[3]. In a recent study conducted by Hainan Medical University, scientists have turned their attention to a natural compound, ginsenoside Rb1 (GRb1), found in ginseng root[1]. Ginsenoside Rb1 has already shown promise in causing apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in cancer cells without harming normal cells, which is a significant advantage over traditional chemotherapy that can cause widespread toxicity. The study involved testing the effects of GRb1 on OSCC cell lines, specifically PCI-9A and PCI-13, to assess its potential as a treatment. The researchers found that GRb1 was not only effective in killing these cancer cells but also did so with reduced toxicity to non-cancerous cells. This is crucial because one of the major drawbacks of current cancer treatments is the damage they can do to healthy tissue. To determine how GRb1 was affecting the cancer cells, the researchers used biochemical staining methods to observe changes in cellular morphology. They also employed Annexin V-FITC and PI methods to investigate the mechanism of cell death. These methods help distinguish between living, early apoptotic, and late apoptotic or necrotic cells by detecting specific markers on the cell surface or changes in the cell membrane. Additionally, the study examined GRb1's ability to prevent the spread of cancer cells. Using migration scratch and Transwell migration assays, the researchers demonstrated that GRb1 has significant antimetastatic properties, meaning it could help prevent cancer from spreading to other parts of the body. Another aspect of the research involved assessing DNA damage in OSCC cells treated with GRb1, using a comet assay. This test allows scientists to visualize DNA fragmentation, which is indicative of apoptosis. The results showed that GRb1 increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels, altered mitochondrial membrane potential, and caused DNA damage, leading to the death of cancer cells. Furthermore, the study found that GRb1 could improve the levels of certain antioxidants in the cells, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione (GSH), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and catalase (CAT). These molecules play a role in protecting cells from damage, and their levels are typically reduced in cancer cells. By increasing these antioxidants, GRb1 helps to mitigate the oxidative stress in OSCC cells. This research builds on previous findings that have highlighted the potential of using machine learning algorithms to improve the diagnosis and grading of OSCC[4]. The ability to accurately classify OSCC into its various stages could be complemented by treatments like GRb1, which target the cancer cells more precisely. Furthermore, the use of non-invasive methods, such as liquid biopsies, could potentially work in tandem with treatments like GRb1 by providing early detection and monitoring of OSCC through the analysis of saliva for specific biomarkers[2]. In conclusion, the study by Hainan Medical University offers hope for a more targeted and less toxic treatment for OSCC. Ginsenoside Rb1 has demonstrated effectiveness in killing OSCC cells and preventing their spread, with reduced harm to healthy cells. This could represent a significant step forward in the treatment of oral cancer, potentially improving survival rates and quality of life for patients. While further research is needed to confirm these findings and develop standardized treatment protocols, the evidence suggests that GRb1 could be a valuable addition to the arsenal of OSCC therapies.



Main Study

1) Ginsenoside Rb1 Deters Cell Proliferation, Induces Apoptosis, Alleviates Oxidative Stress, and Antimetastasis in Oral Squamous Carcinoma Cells.

Published 26th March, 2024

Related Studies

2) Salivary Biomarkers for Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma Diagnosis and Follow-Up: Current Status and Perspectives.

3) Progress in targeted therapeutic drugs for oral squamous cell carcinoma.

4) Automated classification of cells into multiple classes in epithelial tissue of oral squamous cell carcinoma using transfer learning and convolutional neural network.

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