Compounds derived from red wine, spicy peppers and tree bark hold potential for treating ovarian cancer

December 11, 2013

In a series of recent papers, Dr. Benjamin Tsang and his colleagues have revealed how several natural compounds may be able to make ovarian cancer cells more sensitive to chemotherapy. The five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is just 20% and resistance to chemotherapy is thought to play major role. The natural compounds are piceatannol (derived from grapes and red wine; see JBC), hirsutenone (derived from Marchurian alder bark; see JBC) and piperlongumine (derived from spicy peppers; see PLOS ONE). The papers show that each of these compounds make the chemotherapy drug cisplatin more effective against ovarian cancer in cell culture, and for piceatannol, in mouse models as well. Dr. Tsang and his colleagues also show how these compounds alter molecular pathways involved in programmed cell death.

Funders: Canadian Institutes of Health Research; National Research Foundation of Korea

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