The widely grown ornamental tree Magnolia, prized for its lovely, fragrant flowers also harbors a potent cancer fighter, according to a new study.
The bud of Magnolia has been traditionally used for stuffy nose, runny nose, common cold, sinus pain, hay fever, headache, and facial dark spots. Researchers from the Birmingham Veteran Affairs Medical Center, AL, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) claim that a compound called honokiol found in the bark and leaves of the Magnolia tree may be effective against head and neck cancers 1https://www.cancer.gov/types/head-and-neck/head-neck-fact-sheet. Head and neck cancers account for 3% of all cancers and are increasingly detected among smokers. The majority of these cancers originate in the moist tissues that line the mouth, nose, and throat.
The drugs presently used for treatment including Cetuximab do not have good response rates. The toxicity and development of resistance are the other two factors which cannot be overlooked.
For the present study, researchers were on the lookout for a drug that targets a protein called epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) 2http://www.cancer.net/research-and-advocacy/asco-care-and-treatment-recommendations-patients/epidermal-growth-factor-receptor-egfr-testing-advanced-non-small-cell-lung-cancer , as it is this protein that was found to be over expressive in around 90% of all cases of squamous cell head and neck cancers. Upon introducing Honokiol to human cell lines of a number of head and neck cancers, including cancers of the oral cavity, larynx, tongue and pharynx; it was found to bind to and reduce expression of EGFR, which stopped the growth of cancer cells.
In the words of the researchers 3Oncotarget, “Conclusively, honokiol appears to be an attractive bioactive small molecule phytochemical for the management of head and neck cancer which can be used either alone or in combination with other available therapeutic drugs.”
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