New Discovery in Treating Cancer with Traditional Chinese Medicine

Researchers from the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica (SIMM), Chinese Academy of Sciences reported in the recent issue of “Cancer Research” the discovery of a novel mechanism of a traditional Chinese medicine in treating cancer.

The traditional Chinese herb medicine Euphorbia fischeriana Steud has been widely used in China for treating various cancers. Several compounds in the medicinal herb have been reported to have anti-tumor effects. However, the mechanisms of these compounds in inhibiting tumor growth have not been fully understood.

Dr. Ying Wang from Dr Yu’s research group, identified 17-hydroxy-jolkinolide B (HJB) from the herb as a novel inhibitor of the JAK family kinases. The mechanism of this compound is rather unique. It covalently cross-links the JAKs into dimers and inactivates their kinase activities. This effect on the JAKs is very specific. It does not affect many other kinases. As a consequence, it induces apoptosis of tumor cells, particularly those with constitutively activated JAK/STAT3. The JAK family kinases are important targets for anti-cancer and anti-inflammation drugs.

This discovery provides a new direction for JAK inhibitor drug research and development. It also helps to understand the mechanisms of the traditional Chinese medicines in treating cancer.

Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences

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