SOUTHAMPTON, UK – A new study shows an extract of North American chokecherry berries may strengthen the effectiveness of a chemotherapy drug commonly used to treat pancreatic cancer.

The study, published online in the October edition of Journal of Clinical Pathology, shows the extract may enhance treatment of cancer, particularly hard-to-treat ones such as pancreatic cancer.

Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa), a wild berry that grows on the eastern North American wetlands and swamps, is high in vitamins and antioxidants, including various polyphenols—compounds that are believed to cleanse harmful by-products of normal cell activity.

Researchers at King’s College Hospital and the University of Southampton, United Kingdom, suggest that nutraceuticals added to chemotherapy cycles may improve conventional drug effectiveness.

Chokeberry appeared effective in killing cancer cells, probably by apoptosis (programmed cell death). Also, the toxicity of the berry extract on normal blood vessel lining cells was found to have no effects up to the highest levels used – 50 ug/ml, suggesting that cell death is happening in a way other than through preventing new blood vessel formation, which is a process important in cancer cell growth.

The analysis indicated that 48 hours of chokeberry extract treatment of pancreatic cancer cells induced cell death at 1 ug/ml.

The research team states they support more clinical trials to explore the potential of naturally occurring micronutrients in plants, such as those found in chokeberry.

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