According to new research out of Thomas Jefferson University, a compound found in a Christmas berry primrose could be used to treat a devastating form of eye cancer. Although this research is only in its initial stages, doctors are hopeful this compound could soon be used in a drug for uveal melanoma (UM).
For this study, researchers examined the compound FR900359 that’s found in the primrose classified as Ardisia crenata. Scientists created three petri dishes with cells involved in UM and observed the effects of FR900359 in each dish.
The data from this test suggests FR900359 can inhibit an important protein called Gq. While Gq is essential for healthy eye communication, this protein often sends out the wrong messages in UM patients.
When used in smaller amounts, FR900359 helped cancerous molecules transform into healthy cells. Study authors also noted that high doses of FR900359 destroyed a large number of cancer cells.
Analysts involved in this project have already started organizing a future study that will examine FR900359’s effect on rats. If this rat model is successful, then researchers hope to move on to clinical trials.
It’s currently estimated about 2,000 people are diagnosed with UM every year. This cancer frequently metastasizes to a patient’s liver and, unfortunately, doctors don’t have a cure for this disease. When UM metastasizes to the liver, patients usually only have one year to live.
Dr. Jeffrey L. Benovic, who teaches biochemistry at Thomas Jefferson University, was the lead author on this study. A few other researchers involved in this project include Drs. Dominic Lapadula, Philip Wedegaertner, and Julio Aguirre-Ghiso.
People interested in learning more about this research should check out the latest edition of Molecular Cancer Research. This study was published under the title, “Effects of Oncogenic Gαq and Gα11 Inhibition by FR900359 in Uveal Melanoma.”