Researchers at Purdue University and the Scripps Research Institute in California have been able to identify a natural compound that could help fight cancer. The compound is the first to inhibit a cancer protein that was previously considered “incurable”.

Due to the effects of the BRAT1 protein, which is involved in DNA repair in cells, some cancers are capable of rapid growth and metastasis to other parts of the body. Until now, researchers considered BRAT1 to be ” undruggable” and could not be treated with drugs.

Anticancer Shrub

Chemist Mingji Dai of Purdue University in the United States and colleagues have recently discovered that one of the ingredients in the jatropha curcas plant, specifically diterpene curcusone D, can suppress BRAT1 protein activity. It is the first known inhibitor of this dangerous protein.

By Immersia – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons 

The substance kills cancer cells and prevents their spread in the body. This finding could be beneficial in the treatment of many tumors, including many for which the prognosis is unfavorable. In addition, the dosing agent is highly effective in combination with already approved drugs.

Obtaining the Active Substance

Curcuson D and other similar substances have a remarkably interesting structure and could be particularly useful. Unfortunately, the plant produces only exceedingly small amounts of these substances. Most of them are in the roots, and there is only 0.002 % of the content in dry matter, which practically excludes their wider use. However, Dai’s team developed an economically viable way to produce a synthetic version of this substance that opens the way for their further application in medicine.

Photo by Ton Rulkens, CC BY-SA 2.0

According to the researchers, the first results are promising, but at the same time they point out that there is still a long way to go to the treatment itself. Among other things, it is necessary to verify whether the substance of the dose is toxic to the human body, but due to its historical use in folk medicine, they do not assume this.

Featured photo by Ton Rulkens/Flicker