"Therapeutic efficacy of herbal extracts for cancer chemotherapy"
Mortenson, Luke, Ph.D.
Strom, David, Ph.D.
Henry, Matt, Ph.D.
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In recent years, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has become more widespread in the treatment of a variety of illnesses. Several of these alternative herbal therapies claim that they are effective in fighting cancer, though these claims have yet to be supported by the FDA. It is our goal to develop an assay that can evaluate the efficacy of some of these herbal treatments against cancer. Thus far, our main focus has been on the compound hydroxycinnamoaldehyde (HCA), which is the active ingredient in the herb Rou Gui. We have looked at the efficacy of this drug using two methods. The first, flow cytometry, uses DNA to determine cell death. The second, a caspase-3 assay, surveys for a protein present in early apoptosis. These two assays have allowed us to find a dose-response curvefor 32D cells using two traditional concer treatments (Taxol and Doxorubicin), each with and withoutthe addition of HCA. The difference in the curves for each drug with and without HCA will tell us whether or not the herbal has an effect for that treatment.
Megan Strenk graduated from Drake in May 2005, with a B.S. in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology. Lisa Fuller is currently a Pharmacy student at Drake.