An over-the-counter natural remedy derived from honeybee hives arrests the growth of prostate cancer cells and tumors in mice, according to a new paper from researchers at the University of Chicago Medicine.
Caffeic acid phenethyl ester, or CAPE, is a compound isolated from honeybee hive propolis, the resin used by bees to patch up holes in hives. Propolis has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for conditions ranging from sore throats and allergies to burns and cancer. But the compound has not gained acceptance in the clinic due to scientific questions about its effect on cells.
In a paper published in Cancer Prevention Research, researchers combined traditional cancer research methods with cutting-edge proteomics to find that CAPE arrests early-stage prostate cancer by shutting down the tumor cells' system for detecting sources of nutrition.
"If you feed CAPE to mice daily, their tumors will stop growing. After several weeks, if you stop the treatment, the tumors will begin to grow again at their original pace," said Richard B. Jones, PhD, assistant professor in the Ben May Department for Cancer Research and Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology and senior author of the study. "So it doesn't kill the cancer, but it basically will indefinitely stop prostate cancer proliferation."
Natural remedies isolated from plant and animal products are often marketed as cure-alls for a variety of maladies, usually based on vague antioxidant and anti-inflammatory claims. While substances such as ginseng or green tea have been occasionally tested in laboratories for their medicinal properties, scientific evidence is commonly lacking on the full biological effects of these over-the-counter compounds.
"It's only recently that people have examined the mechanism by which some of these herbal remedies work," Jones said. "Our knowledge about what these things are actually doing is a bit of a disconnected hodge-podge of test
|Contact: Rob Mitchum|
University of Chicago Medical Center