Indian scientist Mishra proves cancer cells migration, invasion can be checked.
Bhubaneswar: Dr Sandip Kumar Mishra, a senior scientist working at the Institute of Life Sciences (ILS), Bhubaneswar, has “conclusively” proved that cancer cells migration and invasion can be restricted as well as induced apoptosis (programmed cell death) can also be controlled by Artemisinin in estrogen receptor positive (ER-positive) breast cancer cells.
This finding will largely help women suffering from ER-positive breast cancer. Estrogen receptors (ERs) are a group of proteins found inside cells.
Artemisinin is commonly known for its potent anti-malarial activities. It is also known as qinghao su (Chinese name), and its derivatives extracted from its flowers and leave are a group of drugs used against malaria.
Dr Mishra, head of the molecular oncology lab in the department of cancer biology at Institute of Life Sciences (ILS), Bhubaneswar, and his team has shown that the growth of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer can also be inhibited by Artemisinin.
However, in-vivo and in-vitro studies show its anti-tumor properties, makes it a possible potent drug candidate for study with regard to estrogen receptor alpha and beta positive breast cancer.
“For general understanding, Artemisinin, is isolated from the plant, commonly known as sweet wormwood, (botanical name – ‘Artemisia annua’). It is a herb species which is being used as a Chinese traditional medicine. Chemically it is a sesquiterpene lactone which contains an unusual peroxide bridge,” says Dr Mishra.
Explaining further on the subject, the scientist says the studies of mechanisms of cell movement can be understood by knowing the involvement of genes vis-a-vis effect of a drug.
Although cytotoxicity and anti-proliferative activity of Artemisinin is kind of known, the genes participating in its anti-migratory and reduced invasive effect are not well studied.
The study by Dr Mishra reports the alteration in the expression of 84 genes involved in cell motility upon Artemisinin treatment in breast cancer cells using pathway focused gene expression array. Further, the ability of Artemisinin, as an epigenetic modulator has also been studied with reference to different types of Histone deacetylases (enzymes having the ability to bring in epigenetic modulation).
Dr Mishra has also validated the altered expression of relevant genes associated with cell proliferation, migration, invasion, apoptosis and mammary gland development.
“Interestingly, Artemisinin has also been found to inhibit cell proliferation of estrogen receptor negative breast cancer cells with less efficacies in comparison to estrogen receptor positive ones. At the same time, normal breast epithelial cell viability and proliferation remains unaffected,” the scientist, who was working as a faculty in MD Anderson Cancer centre, Houston, TX, USA before joining ILS, Bhubaneswar, explains.
The study, Dr Mishra claims, has been accepted for publication in a prestigious International journal by Biomed Central, BMC Cancer.
The previous study which was published in a reputed Nature group of journal, “British Journal of Cancer” by Dr Mishra is about the identification of the orphan receptor, Estrogen Related Receptor (ERR beta), which can serve as a backup molecule to replace deregulated Estrogen Receptor alpha (ER alpha) positive breast cancer.
“Interestingly, along with orphan nuclear receptors (ERRa, ERRß and ERR?), Artemisinin alters the culprit genes like ERa/ERß/PR/Her2 expression. The expression of genes involved in the signaling pathways associated with proliferation, migration, invasion and apoptosis are significantly altered which cooperatively results into reduced growth promoting activities of breast cancer cells. Increased expression of tumor suppressor genes along with reduced expression of oncogenes significantly associated with growth stimulating signalling pathways in response to Artemisinin treatment suggests that it should be clinically tested as an effective drug in breast cancer treatment,” says the Amegen award winner scientist.