Natural Chinese Remedy Indirubin Halts Brain Cancer

Yet another natural treatment for a serious disease was validated recently. Researchers from Ohio State University have announced that a Chinese herbal therapy can prevent tumors from forming in the brain, even invasive tumors that until now were untreatable.

“If you’re diagnosed with that disease, it’s a death sentence,” said Sean Lawler, a co-author on the study. “This approach may be a step in the right direction of limiting tumor growth.”

For the study, researchers dosed mice with indirubin (Indigofera tincoria), an extract from the Indigo plant, and a traditional ingredient in Chinese herbalist tinctures.

Indirubin was observed to:

    • Prevent cancer cells from migrating to the brain
    • Reduce blood flow to tumors
    • Halt development of glioblastoma cells
    • Impede cancer from progressing if already present in the brain

“It appears to halt tumor cells in their tracks,” said Dr. E Antonio Chiocca, professor and chairman of neurological surgery at Ohio State. Further more, indirubin appears to prevent the invasion from taking place. Better yet, a significant number of mice treated with indirubin survived!

“We’d like to optimize this drug for use in patients,” Lawler said, although at this time the team is still a year or two away from clinical trials with humans. Difficulties in securing funding and patents are already cropping up, but the team is undaunted. “I would like to push this one quite hard,” Lawler commented.

The team plans to synthesize indirubin into pill form, and Chiocca recently applied for a grant from the National Institutes of Health to subsidize their efforts. If all goes well, more news about indirubin should be forthcoming.