Supplement Used for Diabetes Shows Promise Against Lung Cancer in New Study

Lung cancer is the most prevalent cancer, with over 2 million new cases reported in 2020 worldwide. It is also the leading cause of cancer-related deaths globally, with 1.79 million reported deaths in 2020. 

Non-small cell lung cancer accounts for up to 85% of all lung cancer cases, remains the most common type of lung cancer, and it’s mainly caused by tobacco smoking, second-hand smoking, occupational exposure to carcinogens, pollution, and genetic predisposition. 

The standard of care for lung cancer includes surgical resection in the I and II stages, with later stages being treated mainly with chemotherapy with low success rates. 

The use of traditional medicinal plants has provided many beneficial anti-cancer agents such as paclitaxel, vinca alkaloids, camptothecin, curcumin, and boswellic acid. Berberine, a small molecule isoquinoline alkaloid that is present in roots, rhizomes, and stem bark has been extensively studied for its medicinal properties, such as antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidative properties. 

The main uses of berberine as a supplement have been for the treatment of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

Promising Results Warrant Further Animal Studies 

In a recently published study, researchers evaluated the use of berberine for the treatment of lung cancer in an in vitro model. The study results appear in the journal Pharmaceutics. 

The team from the University of Technology Sydney found that the compound was effective at stopping the growth of lung cancer cells.

For the study, the team formulated liquid crystalline nanoparticles with berberine in order to improve its bioavailability. These biodegradable balls were used to treat human lung cancer cells in vitro in a laboratory setting. During the study, the researchers found that berberine could stop the creation of reactive oxygen species and modulate genes involved in oxidative stress and inflammation. 

The next step for the team is to study the use of berberine in an animal model in order to elucidate its potential benefits in the treatment of lung cancer, and the possible development of a drug for this highly fatal cancer. 


Alnuqaydan, A.M.; Almutary, A.G.; Azam, M.; Manandhar, B.; Yin, G.H.S.; Yen, L.L.; Madheswaran, T.; Paudel, K.R.; Hansbro, P.M.; Chellappan, D.K.; Dua, K. Evaluation of the Cytotoxic Activity and Anti-Migratory Effect of Berberine–Phytantriol Liquid Crystalline Nanoparticle Formulation on Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer In Vitro. Pharmaceutics 2022, 14, 1119.  

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