Parthenolide and MM

I have known about this extract for more than a year, but haven’t posted about it yet. This, by the way, was the non toxic anti-MM substance I mentioned in my previous post. Anyway, even though (starting today) I am officially on my summer holiday (bliss!), I happen to be alone for a little while this morning…with access to a computer, Internet and all of my research data! Too much to resist. 😉 So I decided to write a quick post about this plant extract, even though it deserves more than a passing mention. At any rate, what follows is a tiny part of what I have found, the part that concerns MM, specifically.

Parthenolide (PTL) is a sesquiterpene lactone €”in simple terms, that is a chemical that can cause an allergic reaction, see €”extracted from a daisy-like plant called feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), a medicinal herb that belongs to the sunflower family. Feverfew has been used in European traditional medicine to treat headaches, arthritis and digestive ailments, and also to reduce fevers and relieve menstrual pain. But more importantly, its active component, parthenolide, has been found to kill various cancer cells, including pancreatic, breast cancer, acute myelogeneous leukemia cells, and, ah yes, MM cells.

A 2006 study published in Apoptosis ( explains that PTL has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-cancer properties, and also activates the tumor-suppressor p53 and inhibits NF-kappaB and STAT-3. Excellent! Thanks to a good friend (grazie!), I have the full study in my possession. In addition to all the above, PTL also induces intracellular oxidative stress, which is manifested by elevation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels and activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK). Because of the induction of oxidative stress, the researchers conclude that PTL works in a similar manner to Bortezomib, which I thought was quite interesting. In the end, they report: We here demonstrate that an active component of medicinal plants, PTL, induces apoptosis in four different MM cell lines, and the concentrations required for its proapoptotic effect are less than those that induce toxic effects in normal lymphocytes and hematopoietic BM cells. Our results encourage the belief that PTL can be applied clinically in the chemotherapeutic strategy for these MM cells. Another 2006 study (in Chinese, but the abstract can be read in English: also examined the effect of PTL on MM cells. Apoptosis was again the result.

Now, there is a reason why I have not written a post about PTL until today, in spite of its anti-MM effects: it is a blood-thinner. Since I already take curcumin, I am wary of adding another blood-thinner to my daily intake. But I do have a listserv friend whose SMM has been stable for years, and PTL is on his A list of supplements. So who knows? Perhaps some day I will have the courage to stop taking curcumin for a couple of months in order to test parthenolide. Not any time soon, though.

I have lots more to say, but my time is up now. I have to get back to my holiday. 😉

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