Glycoalkaloids present in vegetation from the genus Solanum could also be a key ingredient in future most cancers medication.
Cancer is a illness that impacts many individuals worldwide. In 2020, there have been round 19 million new instances and 10 million deaths registered. While remedies for most cancers proceed to enhance, they’ll additionally trigger injury to wholesome cells or have extreme unintended effects. In the hunt for extra focused and efficient most cancers medication, researchers are exploring the potential of bioactive compounds present in conventional medication, reminiscent of glycoalkaloids.
A crew of scientists led by Magdalena Winkiel at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland just lately revealed a examine in Frontiers in Pharmacology, reviewing the potential of glycoalkaloids present in widespread greens like potatoes and tomatoes as a therapy for most cancers.
“Scientists around the world are still searching for the drugs which will be lethal to cancer cells but at the same time safe for healthy cells,” stated Winkiel. “It is not easy despite the advances in medicine and powerful development of modern treatment techniques. That is why it might be worth going back to medicinal plants that were used years ago with success in the treatment of various ailments. I believe that it is worth re-examining their properties and perhaps rediscovering their potential.”
Making medication from poison
Winkiel and her colleagues centered on 5 glycoalkaloids – solanine, chaconine, solasonine, solamargine, and tomatine – that are present in crude extracts of the Solanaceae household of vegetation, also referred to as nightshades. This household accommodates many well-liked meals vegetation – and many which can be poisonous, steadily due to the alkaloids they produce as a protection in opposition to animals that eat vegetation. But the right dose can flip a poison into a medication: as soon as scientists have discovered a secure therapeutic dose for alkaloids, they are often highly effective scientific instruments.
Glycoalkaloids specifically inhibit most cancers cell development and could promote most cancers cell demise. These are key goal areas for controlling most cancers and bettering affected person prognoses, so have big potential for future remedies. In silico research — an essential first step —recommend that the glycoalkaloids aren’t poisonous and don’t threat damaging DNA or causing future tumors, although there may be some effects on the reproductive system.
“Even if we cannot replace anticancer drugs that are used nowadays, maybe combined therapy will increase the effectiveness of this treatment,” Winkiel suggested. “There are many questions, but without detailed knowledge of the properties of glycoalkaloids, we will not be able to find out.”
From tomatoes to treatments
One necessary step forward is using in vitro and model animal studies, to determine which glycoalkaloids are safe and promising enough to test in humans. Winkiel and her colleagues highlight glycoalkaloids derived from potatoes, like solanine and chaconine – although the levels of these present in potatoes depend on the cultivar of potato and the light and temperature conditions the potatoes are exposed to. Solanine stops some potentially carcinogenic chemicals from transforming into carcinogens in the body and inhibits metastasis. Studies on a particular type of leukemia cells also showed that at therapeutic doses, solanine kills them. Chaconine has anti-inflammatory properties, with the potential to treat sepsis.
Meanwhile, solamargine — which is mostly found in aubergines — stops liver cancer cells from reproducing. Solamargine is one of several glycoalkaloids that could be crucial as a complementary treatment because it targets cancer stem cells which are thought to play a significant role in cancer drug resistance. Solasonine, which is found in several plants from the nightshade family, is also thought to attack cancer stem cells by targeting the same pathway. Even tomatoes offer potential for future medicine, with tomatine supporting the body’s regulation of the cell cycle so that it can kill cancer cells.
Further research will be needed to determine how this in vitro potential can best be turned into practical medicine, Winkiel and her team noted. There is some reason to believe that high-temperature processing improves glycoalkaloid properties, and nanoparticles have recently been found to improve the transmission of glycoalkaloids to cancer cells, boosting drug delivery. However, the glycoalkaloids’ mechanisms of action need to be better understood, and all potential safety concerns need to be scrutinized before patients can benefit from cancer drugs straight out of the vegetable patch.
Reference: “Anticancer activity of glycoalkaloids from Solanum plants: A review” by Magdalena Joanna Winkiel, Szymon Chowański and Małgorzata Słocińska, 7 December 2022, Frontiers in Pharmacology.