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US scientists discover why long peppers fight cancer



January 21, 2017

Long pepper plant (Piper longum). Photo by Delince

Scientists at Dallas UT Southwestern Medical Center have discovered what’s in long pepper (Piper longum) that can fight cancers, and it’s called Piperlongumine or PL.

Piper longum is not often used in Western cooking but is often found in Indian stews and is also used in Ayurvedic medicine.

Ingested PL has been shown to reduce tumours associated with a wide variety of cancers, including breast, prostate, lung, colon, lymphoma and primary brain tumours. The researchers used an innovative x-ray crystallography technique to model the molecular structures that explain how, after ingestion, PL converts to hPL, a chemical that silences a gene known as GSTP1, which is known to produce an enzyme that’s found in tumours.

With the new knowledge gained from the x-ray crystallography, there’s hope that the correct potency of PL can be determined and incorporated into cancer therapies.

The research was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and supported by the V Foundation for Cancer Research. Read more at UT Southwestern Medical Center


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