Thunder God Vine May Block 60 Different Cancer Cell Lines Research Says
Pursuit of medical knowledge has been a tradition in humanity since the dawn of time. In the beginning, the inner workings of the body were little understood, and medical treatments may have revolved more around superstition and anecdotal evidence than those leading up to modern times. But in the forefront of the pursuit of medical knowledge, the Chinese have blazed the trail for innovation, research and medical technological advanced.
Their study of Thunder God Vine and its medicinal properties is no different. Behind the curtained windows of the Chinese people, a truly integrative approach to cancer care exists in which modern medicine and ancient wisdom are coupled. Cancer is approached not only from a medical perspective, but from a holistic perspective as well, including mind, body and spirit being integrated into the path of care for the patient.
Teams of experts that include oncologists, acupuncturists and herbalists work side by side to develop a whole body treatment approach that includes cancer fighting portions as well as healing strategies in order to treat the patient as a whole, to both cure the disease, and heal the body from the effects the disease leaves behind.
Thunder god vine can be a part of that treatment process in China. Long known for its anti-tumoric properties and its anti-inflammatory powers, its ability to treat rheumatoid arthritis, thunder god vine root extract has been used to treat cancer patients in the People’s Republic for centuries. In modern times, Lei Gong Teng (the Chinese name for thunder god vine) has been shown by researchers at John Hopkins School of Medicine to block the mechanisms by which to cancer cells control their replication.
In other words, the compound Triptolide, found naturally in the thunder god vine root, stops the cancer cell growth by controlling the cancer cell’s ability to reproduce.
Jun O. Liu, Ph.D., a professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences at Johns Hopkins says that triptolide has been shown to block the growth of 60 U.S. National Cancer Institute cells, causing some of those cancer cell lines to actually die. The team of scientists was able to measure this activity by looking at how much new DNA and RNA material was created in the cancer cells. After being treated with Triptolide, it was discovered that the cells were almost unable to manufacture any RNA. In other words, the cancer cells were not able to reproduce after being treated with the Triptolide compound found in Thunder-god vine.
Digging a bit deeper, the researchers lead by Dr Liu discovered that the triptolide compound blocked the production of an enzyme critical to the RNA replication process inside the cancer cells. This enzyme, known as RNAPII (one of three enzymes needed for replication). Since the RNAPII requires the assistance of a yet smaller protein, the researchers dug down even further and found that protein cluster called TFIIH actually stopped working in the presence of Triptolide.
Delving into the TFIIH protein, which is again made of smaller particles, the t4am discovered that it is actually the XPB protein that is crippled by the Triptolide. So any cancer that relies in the base XPB protein for replication could be effected by the presence of the Triptolide compound in Thunder-god vine.
“We were fairly certain it was XPB because other researchers had found triptolide to bind to an unknown protein of the same size, but they weren’t able to identify it,” says Dr. Liu. “To convince themselves that the interaction between triplotide and XPB is what stops cells from growing, the researchers made 12 chemicals related to triplotide with a wide range of activity and treated HeLa cells with each of the 12 chemicals at several different doses. By both counting cells and testing XPB activity levels, the team found that the two correlate; chemicals that were better at decreasing XPB activity were also better at stopping cell growth and vice versa.
“Triptolide’s general ability to stop RNAPII activity explains its anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects,” says Liu. “And its behavior has important additional implications for circumventing the resistance that some cancer cells develop to certain anticancer drugs. We’re eager to study it further to see what it can do for future cancer therapy.”
Further research is necessary on the effects of Thunder god vine and its various compounds, including triptolide and celastrol, to determine further uses for this natural cancer killer. In the meantime, the results are promising in this fight against insidious cancer.
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. “Solving a traditional Chinese medicine mystery: Discovery of molecular mechanism reveals antitumor possibilities.” ScienceDaily 7 March 2011. 14 March 2011.