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Russian scientists discover Siberian fir can help cure cancer

March 01, 2017, 14:51 UTC+3 MOSCOW

To study the influence of Siberian fir terpenoids on the cellular ageing process, the scientists utilized the technique of transplanting cells into a new medium

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© Artiom Geodakyan/TASS

MOSCOW, March 1. /TASS/ Researchers from V.A. Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) studied the influence of terpenoids (class of naturally occurring organic compounds) extracted from Siberian fir on senescent and cancer cell lines on a genetic level, MIPT’s press office reported. The treatment with terpenoids contained in fir increases the activity of genes responsible for the regeneration of tissues and controlling tumors. The growth of a tumor in old cells can be suppressed down to the level normally observed in young cells. Results of the study were published in an article in the journal, Oncotarget.

Terpenoids in large quantities can be found in conifers and protect them from diseases and pests, as well as from various unfavorable factors found in the natural environment such as overheating, cooling, damage and so forth.

Cell ageing model

To study the influence of Siberian fir terpenoids on the cellular ageing process, the scientists utilized the technique of transplanting cells into a new medium. In the experiments, the researchers used fibroblasts, cells of conjunctive tissue of a body. Once every 2-3 days, when the cells had built up a continuous layer and reached a high density, a part of cell culture was separated from the surface and carried into a vessel with a new breeding ground. During this period, the cells have enough time to divide. So, the more transplants the cell cultures underwent, the more times it divided, and consequently, aged.

The scientists used this technique as a model for ageing. It appeared that in the old genes treated with terpenoids, the activity of genes responsible for the assembling, packing, and transporting of complex proteins, and for recycling of old ones, had increased by a factor of 1.5-3. Moreover, the activities of genes controlling the process of cellular death and tissue regeneration rose as well.

Moreover, the terpenoids increased the activity of three genes from the GADD45 and DUSP8 gene families, which are closely connected to the suppression of tumor development and extending a person’s lifespan. The mutations in genes GADD45 are often accompanied by the appearance and progression of malignant tumors and influence the effects of chemotherapy treatment, whereas the genes of the DUSP family are responsible for the suppression of tumors and for the efficiency of chemotherapy.

Consequently, in this study, the potential geroprotectors and anti-cancer properties of Siberian fir terpenoids were revealed, which when put into perspective, will broaden the application range of these substances.

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