Chinese herbal medicine, huang-qi, can treat breast cancer

Researchers from the Fujian University of Traditional Medicine in China have found that the traditional Chinese medicine called Huang-qi (Astragalus membranaceus) can be a promising agent in breast cancer treatment. In their study, which was published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the team looked at the biological effects of Huang-qi on breast cancer cells and the mechanisms behind it.

  • To prepare the extract, researchers used ground Huang-qi with a water extraction-ethanol supernatant method. The main isolates in the extract were identified afterward.
  • The anti-proliferative activity of Huang-qi extract was tested on three breast cancer lines: MCF-7 (ER+), SK-BR-3 (HER2+) and MDA-MB-231 (triple-negative). This was done by exposing breast cancer cells to the extract for 48 hours.
  • Researchers also analyzed Huang-qi’s effect on phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate 3-kinase (PI3K)/Protein kinase B (Akt)/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathways, a primary intracellular signaling pathway that contributes to cell proliferation, growth, migration, metabolism, and apoptosis.
  • Results revealed that Huang-qi extract had four kinds of isoflavones: campanulin, ononin, calycosin, and formononetin.
  • Huang-qi extract inhibited proliferation of cells MCF-7, SK-BR-3 and MDA-MB-231.
  • Treatment with Huang-qi extracts also substantially promoted breast cancer cell apoptosis.
  • The findings suggested that the ability of Huang-qi to inhibit breast cancer cell growth was linked to its ability to inhibit PI3K/Akt/mTOR activity.

The researchers concluded that Huang-qi extract could potentially be used for breast cancer treatment.

Read the full text of the study at this link.

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Journal Reference:

Zhou R, Chen H, Chen J, Chen X, Wen Y, Xu L. EXTRACT FROM ASTRAGALUS MEMBRANACEUS INHIBIT BREAST CANCER CELLS PROLIFERATION VIA PI3K/AKT/MTOR SIGNALING PATHWAY. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 9 March 2018; 18(83). DOI: 10.1186/s12906-018-2148-2

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