The cashew tree or Anacardium occidentale is an evergreen, tropical tree which produces nutrient-rich seeds and fruits. Various researches report the fruits and seeds of cashew tree to be a product of great benefits.
A recent research conducted at Kentucky enumerates the positive properties of cashew-nuts related to cancer. The research reports that cashew nuts consist of anacardic acid that alleviates the growth and propagation of pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer has grown to be a common health condition in recent years. It is one of the deadliest forms of cancers known.
Research and technological progressions have revealed various biological facts about cancer and its development. Studies also lead to the mechanisms behind the development of cancers or tumors at molecular levels.
In the case of pancreatic cancer, scientists have learned that “chromatin modifying protein 1A” abbreviated as “Chmp-1A” can inhibit tumor formation. It is a signaling molecule, protein in nature, and suppresses the formation of tumors in the pancreas. Chmp-1A does so by activating the tumor suppressor p53 and Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated (ATM).
The respective findings have led researchers to develop anticancer medicines or drugs. However, many of the patients were seen to develop resistance against these drugs. The researchers, then, developed a complementary therapeutic treatment with an aim to improve the effectiveness of the drugs in treatment against cancer.
A team of researchers from the University of Pikeville (UPike) put anacardic acid to test. They evaluated it as a potential mean of treating pancreatic cancer.
Anacardic acid is a dietary supplement. It is derived from cashew apple, cashew nutshell liquid, and mangoes. It prevents the proliferation of cancer cells in the breasts, lungs, and prostate glands. Anacardic acid regulates signaling pathways and related molecules that suppress cancer.
The researchers of the respective study cultured human pancreatic cancer cells and subjected them to three different treatments. The treatments were as follow,
- Anacardic acid only
- Anacardic acid combined with the anticancer drug 5-Fluorouracil
- Anacardic acid and another anticancer drug, Gemcitabine
The researchers not only analyzed the cytotoxic effects of pure anacardic acid but also tested the efficacy of this natural substance in combination with two synthetic anticancer drugs. Moreover, the study also enumerated the molecular mechanisms involved in the anticancer activity of anacardic acid. They focused on Chmp-1A, ATM, and p53. These three, as mentioned above, are signaling molecules that possess cancer-fighting effects.
Last but not least; the researchers also evaluated the individual effects of anacardic acid, 5-Fluorouracil, and Gemcitabine on human pancreatic cancer cells and Chmp-1A molecules.
The results of the research and experiments say that pure anacardic acid is potent enough to suppress the growth of pancreatic cancer cells. In comparison to the control group, the treated cells showed fewer numbers of smaller spheroids. The study also revealed that anacardic acid enhanced the cytotoxic effects of both of the anticancer drugs used.
The cancer-suppressing activity of anacardic acid is attributed to its ability to activate Chmp-1A, ATM, and p53. By increasing the levels of Chmp-1A, anacardic acid activates ATM and p53 molecules which leads to a reduction in the development of tumors. It was also observed that 5-Fluorouracil and Gemcitabine increase the protein levels of Chmp-1A as well.
All of the results proved that the cytotoxic actions of the drugs are mediated by the signaling molecule. The cancer cell cultures with silent Chmp-1A didn’t respond to anacardic acid at all. The tumor continued to grow. On the other side, 5-Fluorouracil and Gemcitabine were able to suppress the cancer cell growth, despite the silent Chmp-1A. Hence, it was proved that anacardic acid relies on Chmp-1A for its anticancer effect.
However, the researchers demand further studies evaluating anacardic acid as a possible mean of treating pancreatic cancer.