Scientists were able to produce more effective cancer treatments thanks to advances in medicine and technology. These treatments, however, can harm healthy cells and frequently cause severe side effects in patients.
Researchers from Adam Mickiewicz University investigated glycoalkaloids, the bioactive substances found in many vegetables, such as potatoes & tomatoes, for their potential efficacy in treating cancer. They were looking for novel cancer drug candidates with fewer side effects. Who knows, then? Glycoalkaloids can be used to create future cancer medications.
According to Magdalena Winkiel in a press release, researchers are still looking for medications that will kill cancer cells while remaining safe for healthy cells.
“Despite the advancements in medicine and the tremendous development of modern therapeutic procedures, it is not easy. Because of this, it might be worthwhile to going back to the medicinal plants that were used years ago formerly successfully in treatment of various ailments. I believe it is worthwhile to reconsider their properties and perhaps uncover their potential.”
Working on five glycoalkaloids
The researchers focused on 5 glycoalkaloids found in crude extracts of the Solanaceae plant family, often known as nightshades: solanine, chaconine, solasonine, solamargine, & tomatine.
As a result of the alkaloids they create to protect themselves against herbivorous animals, the Solanaceae plant family includes some regularly consumed foods. However, past study has shown that poison can be converted into medicine if in the right dose.
Glycoalkaloids are known to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and potentially kill them. Therefore, glycoalkaloids have great potential for future treatments as they represent important areas for controlling cancer and improving patient prognosis. Silico’s studies, conducted using computer simulations, showed that glycoalkaloids are non-toxic and do not risk damaging DNA or causing future tumors, although there is a risk of affecting the reproductive system.
“Even if we cannot replace the anticancer medications that are now used, perhaps combined therapy will boost the success of this treatment,” Winkiel added. “There are numerous questions, but we won’t be able to answer them unless we have a thorough understanding of the properties of glycoalkaloids.”
Researchers highlighted solanine and chaconine
The research team focused on solanine and chaconine, glycoalkaloids present in potatoes, after conducting in vitro and animal experiments to determine whether glycoalkaloids are safe and promising enough to test in humans. The amounts of these in potatoes, however, vary depending on the cultivar as well as the temperature and light conditions to which they were exposed.
Solanine prevents metastasis and stopping potentially carcinogenic compounds from becoming carcinogens in the body. In addition, research on a certain type of leukemia cell revealed that solanine can kill cancer cells when used in therapeutic doses.
Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, chaconine has the potential to be utilised to treat sepsis.
Solamargin inhibits reproduction of liver cancer cells and targets cancer stem cells, which are expected to play an important role in cancer drug resistance. Therefore, it could be crucial as a complementary treatment.
Solasonin, found in several plants in the nightshade family, is also believed to attack cancer stem cells by targeting the same pathway.
Even tomatoes have the potential to be used in medicine in the future, as tomatoes help the body regulate the cell cycle so they can kill cancer cells.
The research team determined that additional research is needed to determine how best to translate this in vitro potential into real world medicine.
The study was published in Frontiers in Pharmacology.