Chinese herb kills pancreatic cancer cells.


A little known Chinese compound is making . Researchers at the University of Minnesota, have determined the mechanism by which the thunder plant compound literally kills cancer. The Chinese plant known as the “thunder god vine”, or “lei gong teng” is an integral part of and has been used to treat diverse medical conditions.

is a particularly aggressive form of cancer with a five year . A , GRP78, protects cancer cells from dying and is more prevalent in cancer cells and tissue than in normal organs. The has been linked to the ability of cancer cells to survive by impacting on the cell metabolism, (endoplasmic reticulum ER), and a cellular process called the unfolded response.

The researchers demonstrated that triptolide suppresses GRP78, leading to cell death. In cells treated with triptolide the unfolded response worked properly leading to cell death in malfunctioning cancer cells. “Our study shows that although increased expression of GRP78 confers a survival advantage to the , prolonged exposure to triptolide induces chronic ER stress, which eventually leads to cell death,” the authors said. “In this context, of GRP78 by activation of the ER stress pathway by triptolide offers a novel mechanism for inhibiting the growth and survival of cells.”


N. Mujumdar, S. Banerjee, Z. Chen, V. Sangwan, R. Chugh, V. Dudeja, M. Yamamoto, S. M. Vickers, A. K. Saluja. Triptolide activates unfolded response leading to chronic ER stress in cells. AJP: Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, 2014; 306 (11): G1011 DOI: 10.1152/ajpgi.00466.2013

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