A natural agent derived from the bark of the South-American lapacho tree inhibits growth and induces cell death in human retinoblastoma cell lines, according to a paper published online in Eye. Beta-lapachone induces potent cytotoxic effects at low micromolar concentrations, which the authors suggest might lead to its use in the clinical management of retinoblastoma.
Retinoblastoma is a childhood cancer that accounts for approximately 3% of cancers in children. In the developing world it remains fatal, however in developed countries it is one of the most curable paediatric cancers, combated using a combination of therapies. One problem that exists with the traditional approach of radiotherapy is the association of long-term morbidity and even secondary mortality. A preferred option would be chemotherapy together with a locally applied therapeutic modality, such as laser therapy or cryotherapy.
Heeral Shah and colleagues investigated the effects of beta-lapachone on human retinoblastoma cell lines. They found that beta-lapachone was effective in inhibiting the growth and proliferation of retinoblastoma cells, and actively induced their apoptotic destruction at low doses. Their findings are consistent with those from studies of the effect of beta-lapachone in other human cancer cell lines - including breast, colon and lung cancer. Given recent reports that beta-lapachone also acts with a high degree of selectivity towards cancer cells, the authors suggest that it could have great utility in the management of retinoblastoma.
Joan O'Brien (University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA) Co-author
Emma Greenwoord (Assistant Editor, Nature Publishing Group)
Abstract available online.
(C) Eye press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza