Most lung cancer-associated deaths are due to the migration of cancer cells to other organs, a known process called metastasis. Although cancer therapies have progressed, treatments for lung cancer metastases continue to lag behind.
The root of the red ginseng (panax ginseng) it has been used as a food and medicine in herbal medicine for thousands of years, especially in Korea and China, thanks to its properties. However, the composition and functions of red ginseng vary depending on the processing method. A recent study identifies a new process that allows red ginseng to be effective against lung cancer metastases.
The role of ginsenosides
A new study by scientists from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) led by Dr Jungyeob Ham reports the successful use of a microwave processing method for ginseng. The method increases the traces of ginsenosides Rk1 e Rg5, a class of naturally occurring steroid sugars found almost exclusively in the genus plants panax. The compound thus obtained effectively inhibits lung cancer metastases.
These results are published in an article on the Journal of Ginseng Research.
Other red ginseng compounds have already been shown to kill cancer cells: this is the first study to show that the ginsenosides Rk1 and Rg5 also have effects against lung cancer metastases. A major development: could lead to the creation of anticancer drugs derived from natural products.
Metastasis of the cancer it is a multi-step process that begins with stationary cells becoming mobile and invasive. This change, technically called transition from epithelial to mesenchymal or EMT, is accompanied by changes in the shape of cancer cells and a decrease in their adhesion to surrounding cells. The role of the growth factor beta1 (TGF-b1), a protein that suppresses cell growth, differentiation and death, is crucial in EMT.
The "microwave" ginseng against lung cancer
The new processing method for red ginseng is based on the same principle as a microwave oven. Compared to existing processing methods (such as steaming and repetitive drying), the microwave method increases the concentration of the three main active components, Rg3, Rk1 e Rg5, more than 20 times.
The team has already shown in previous studies that red ginseng produced by this method called KMxG, is effective against various neoplasms. Major: Prostate, cervical and skin cancers and protects against drug-induced kidney damage.
Since we can control the active ingredient content of red ginseng with microwave processing methods such as KMxG, it may be possible to develop customized functional compounds for various diseases.Jungyeob Ham, first author of the study
The specific effects on lung cancer metastases
The researchers treated lung cancer cells with Rk1 e Rg5, the main components of red ginseng extracted with the KMxG method. Studies show that both components effectively inhibit various processes related to TGF-b1-induced cancer metastasis.