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Christmas berry could play role in fighting uveal melanoma

A chemical compound derived from the ardisia crenata plant, also known as Australian holly or Christmas berry, might be an effective tool in fighting uveal melanoma.

According to researchers at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center (SKCC) at Mt Sinai in the US, a compound extracted from the plant was able to stop the cancer’s growth during preliminary tests.

The compound, named FR, works by blocking Gq, an important signalling protein that sits on a cell’s membrane. In uveal melanoma, subsets of these proteins are mutated, turning on a molecular pathway that leads to cancer growth.

Dr Jeffrey Benovic, associate director of the SKCC and leader of the research, said the results have left him optimistic that the compound could result in new strategies for combatting the cancer.

“If the results are confirmed in animal models and eventually humans, it could offer a new way to treat metastatic uveal melanoma patients down the road,” he said.

FR was originally discovered 30 years ago, and is derived from the plant’s leaves.

Benovic said the next step for the project would be replicating the result in mice.

The results of the study were published in Molecular Cancer Research.


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