During the holiday season, the majority of the German living rooms are decorated with coralberry plants with bright red fruits.
The coralberry plant, originally from Korea, is resistant to any insect attack because of its natural insecticide produced by its toxin called FR900359.
A study held in the Universities of Bonn and Magdeburg discovered the powerful active substance in the plant which was widely known as a holiday decoration, the coralberry plant.
It turns out to be a ray of hope to fight eye tumors. The results are published in the journal “Science Signaling.” which shows that the plant contains an active toxin named FR900359 or FR for short that can battle against aggressive eye tumors.
How Does Coralberry Plant Fight Eye Cancer?
According to Dr. Kostenis from the Institute of Pharmaceutical Biology at the University of Bonn, “The substance inhibits an important group of molecules in the cells, the Gq proteins,”.
It is discovered to be a potential drug against uveal melanoma, the most common and aggressive variant of eye cancer. To put it more simply, Gq proteins act the same way as a city’s emergency control center.
For instance, when the control center receives an emergency call, it quickly sends out police, fire brigade, and ambulance. Gq proteins, in the same way, can be activated by specific control signals.
Their activated form switches metabolic pathways on or off which should soon inactivate themselves after resolving the abnormal condition of the cells.
However, in uveal melanoma, an aggressive eye cancer, a tiny mutation prevents two important Gq proteins from returning to their inactive state.
They become permanently active which is as if sending continuous unnecessary fire brigades to the source of fire even when the fire has already been extinguished for days. Due to this malfunction, cancer cells start to divide uncontrollably.
“FR can stop this division activity. That’s something no one would have expected,” says Kostenis. It has been known for quite a remarkable time that FR can prevent the activation of Gq proteins.
The substance “clings” to the proteins and ensures that they remain in their inactive form but it is a surprise that FR can also be effective in mutated active Gq proteins.
Can It Effectively Treat Eye Cancer Now?
FR has already proven its effectiveness in cell cultures and experiments involving mice with cancer. Nevertheless, application in humans is still a long way from becoming feasible.
Above all, scientists have yet to discover how the substance would reach the tumor cells precisely, without hitting other tissues. “Gq proteins assume vital functions practically everywhere in the body.
If we want FR to kill only the tumor cells, we have to get the drug right there. However, this is a challenge that many other chemotherapies also have to deal with.” clarifies Prof. Kostenis.
Research related to FR was first led by Japanese researchers.
After 25 years, its biological mode of action was described by the team of researchers led by Professor Gabriele M. König and Professor Evi Kostenis at the Institute of Pharmaceutical Biology of the University of Bonn.
This study now forms the foundation for the German Research Foundation (DFG) on the group of G proteins and the possibility of their pharmacological manipulation.