Chinese Plant Conquers Cancer after 40 Days?

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Oftentimes in the news, the only medical issues covered are research into new drugs and man-made concoctions. Yet steadily and often times quietly, researchers have been looking to the natural treatments used by our ancestors to see what, if anything, may actually be of value given our current scientific knowledge. Often folk remedies provide valuable clues to what secrets lay within nature’s medicine cabinet.

Leiii gong teng (which roughly translates to “the thunder god vine”) is a plant that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years, most often to treat rheumatoid arthritis. And recently, researchers saw a compound containing this ingredient completely annihilate pancreatic tumors in mice after just 40 days of treatment, with visible reductions in the size of the tumors daily.

The drug, tentatively named Minnelide by researchers, is a combination of the plant and other ingredients. The study was conducted at the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Cancer Center and the findings will be published in the Science Translational Medicine Journal.

The next step? Hopefully, clinical trials in humans within 6 months. Although it’s never a sure bet whether what works in mice works in humans, researchers are cautiously optimistic. Pancreatic cancer, a variety that often has a grim outlook with only a 20% survival rate after the first year and 14% after 5 years, afflicts 44,000 individuals a year in the United States alone, and this ground-breaking compound could save untold lives.

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