Researchers have revealed in a recent study that an orange pigment found in lichens and rhubarb called parietin may have potential as an anti-cancer drug.
Scientists from the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University have discovered that Parietin that is also known as physcion, could slow the growth of and kill human leukemia cells obtained directly from patients, without obvious toxicity to human blood cells.
During the research, lead researcher Jing Chen discovered the properties of parietin because they were looking for inhibitors for the metabolic enzyme 6PGD.
Chen said that this is part of the Warburg effect, the distortion of cancer cells’ metabolism and they have found that 6PGD is an important metabolic branch point in several types of cancer cells.
The Winship team obtained cancer cells from a patient with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and found doses of physcion/parietin that could kill half the leukemia cells in culture within 48 hours, while the same doses left healthy blood cells unscathed.
The research is published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.