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Ayurvedic Herb Can
Halt Leukemia Spread

By  Courtesy ANI

An extract from the root of an ornamental plant found in India can suppress the progression of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), a new study by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center has found.

The ayurvedic herb, called forskolin, which comes from the root of the plant Coleus Forskohlii (Makandi), is a member of the mint (Lamiaceae) family, and has been a part of Indian medicine for centuries.

The study, published in the recent issue of Cancer Cell, may yield new treatment options for people who are expected to develop CML, especially those with advanced disease, or those who become resistant to the drug Gleevec.

Early results on CML patient cells both in culture and in mice showed that forskolin reduced the cancer cells ability to grow by up to 90 percent.

"We believe these are significant findings. We have uncovered a key process that underlies progression in CML and identified an agent that can block it. We also have shown that forskolin can reinstate normal cell functioning, even in Gleevec-resistant cells that do not respond to any treatment currently available," said Dr. Danilo Perrotti, a member of the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Centers Molecular Biology and Cancer Genetics Program.

Patients with the earliest form of the disease, called the chronic phase, may not even be aware they are sick. If the disease is discovered early, it almost always responds to the drug Gleevec. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Gleevec as a treatment for CML about five years ago and it was initially hailed as the first 'wonder drug' for cancer.

But since then, a significant minority of patients who initially responded well to Gleevec have acquired additional mutations and developed resistance to the drug. In these patients, white blood cells continue to proliferate. If left unchecked, it leads to the final, acute stage, called the blast crisis, where immature white blood cells infiltrate the blood and the bone marrow.

Clinicians are well-versed in the signs and symptoms of the different stages of CML, but until now, they have had few clues about what actually causes the disease to progress. Perrotti said his studies show that it may be due to the increased activity of Bcr-Abl itself.

The researchers tested the effects of forskolin on normal, Gleevec-sensitive and Gleevec-resistant CML cells, and discovered that the extract reduced the cancer cells ability to grow by up to 90 percent and induced leukemic cell death and differentiation. It had no adverse effects upon normal cells. (ANI) .

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