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Emory scientists find anti-tumor compounds in magnolia cones

ATLANTA - The beloved southern magnolia, state flower of Louisiana and Mississippi, could provide more to cancer patients than shade and pretty flowers. A team of scientists at Emory University School of Medicine has discovered that seed cones from magnolia trees contain substances that inhibit the growth of new blood vessels. The active ingredient in the magnolia cones inhibited the growth of blood vessel endothelial cells in the laboratory and cut tumor growth in half in experiments in mice. Researchers have been interested in this class of compounds, called angiogenesis inhibitors, for the last several years, and clinical trials are just now assessing their effectiveness against various kinds of cancer.

The team's research was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry online on June 19. The research was performed in the laboratory of Jack Arbiser, MD, PhD, assistant professor of dermatology at Emory School of Medicine and a faculty member in the Winship Cancer Institute. Lead author was Xianhe Bai, PhD, Emory dermatology postdoctoral fellow. Collaborators include investigators from the University of North Carolina, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Northwestern University, and Humboldt University in Berlin.

Tumors, once they begin growing, can't continue to grow past a certain size without the oxygen and nutrients that blood vessels provide. The most dangerous tumors secrete signals that tell the body to grow new blood vessels toward them. Angiogenesis inhibitors are designed to stop those signals from being received, and come in various forms. For example, the biotechnology firm Genentech's Avastin™, recently fast-tracked by the FDA for approval, is an antibody against a protein secreted by tumors vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Recent clinical trials have demonstrated Avastin's effectiveness, in combination with chemotherapy, against colon cancer. Dr. Arbiser had previously developed a method for screening mixtures of
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Contact: Holly Korschun
hkorsch@emory.edu
404-727-3990
Emory University Health Sciences Center
15-Jul-2003


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