Visit our Re-post guidelines
A new study reveals ginger contains a pungent compound that could be up to 10,000 times more effective than conventional chemotherapy in targeting the cancer stem cells at the root of cancer malignancy.
A new study published in PLoS reveals a pungent component within ginger known as 6-shogaol is superior to conventional chemotherapy in targeting the root cause of breast cancer malignancy: namely, the breast cancer stem cells.
As we have discussed in greater detail in a previous article titled, "Cancer Stem Cells: The Key To Curing Cancer," cancer stem cells are at the root of a wide range of cancers, not just breast cancer, and are sometimes referred to as "mother cells" because they are responsible for producing all the different "daughter" cell types that makeup the tumor colony. While cancer stem cells only constitute between .2 and 1% of the cells within any given tumor, they have the seeming "immortal" ability to self renew, are capable of continuous differentiation, are resistant to conventional chemotherapeutic agents, and are tumorigenic, i.e. are capable of "splitting off" to create new tumor colonies. Clearly, the cancer stem cells within a tumor must be destroyed if cancer treatment is to affect a lasting cure.
The new study titled, "6-Shogaol Inhibits Breast Cancer Cells and Stem Cell-Like Spheroids by Modulation of Notch Signaling Pathway and Induction of Autophagic Cell Death," identified powerful anti-cancer stem cell activity in 6-shogaol, a pungent constituent of ginger produced when the root is either dried or cooked. The study also found that the cancer-destroying effects occurred at concentrations that were non-toxic to non-cancerous cells – a crucial difference from conventional cancer treatments that do not exhibit this kind of selective cytotoxicity and therefore can do great harm to the patient.
The authors of the study further affirm these points:
Cancer stem cells pose serious obstacle to cancer therapy as they can be responsible for poor prognosis and tumour relapse. To add into the misery, very few chemotherapeutic compounds show promise to kill these cells. Several researchers have shown that cancer stem cells are resistant to paclitaxel, doxorubicin, 5-fluorouracil, and platinum drugs [8, 16]. CSCs are thus an almost unreachable population in tumours for chemotherapy. Therefore any compound, that shows promise towards cancer stem cells, is a highly desirable step towards cancer treatment and should be followed up for further development.
The researchers identified a variety of ways by which 6-shagoal targets breast cancer:
- It reduces the expression of CD44/CD24 cancer stem cell surface markers in breast cancer spheroids (3-dimensional cultures of cells modeling stem cell like cancer)
- It significantly affects the cell cycle, resulting in increased cancer cell death
- It induces programmed cell death primarily through the induction of autophagy, with apoptosis a secondary inducer
- It inhibits breast cancer spheroid formation by altering Notch signaling pathway through γ-secretase inhibition.
- It exhibits cytotoxicity (cell killing properties) against monolayer (1-dimensional cancer model) and spheroid cells (3-dimensional cancer model)
It was in evaluating the last mode of 6-shagoal's chemotherapeutic activity and comparing it to the activity of the conventional chemotherapeutic agent taxol that the researchers discovered an astounding difference. Whereas taxol exhibited clear cytotoxicity in the one-dimensional (flat) monolayer experimental model, it had virtually no effect on the spheroid model, which is a more "real world" model reflecting the 3-dimensionality of tumors and their stem cell subpopulations. Amazingly, this held true even when the concentration of taxol was increased by four orders of magnitude: