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November 22, 2014

Drug developed at U of M ‘incredibly potent’ in killing pancreatic cancer

Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Cancer Center have developed a drug that kills pancreatic cancer tumors in mice. The success of the drug could lead to tests on humans as soon as next year.

The drug is called Minnelide (derived from Minnesota). It’s made from a plant used in traditional Chinese medicine called the Thunder God Vine. The leader of the U of M’s study tells Business Week the drug is “unbelievably potent in killing tumor cells.”

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal forms of cancer, with a median survival rate of six months after diagnosis. The Healthline blog reports the Minnesota study shows a protein that protects pancreatic tumors from other drugs is vulnerable to Thunder God Vine.

The National Institutes of Health has a page on Thunder God Vine. It says when it comes to the plant’s cancer-fighting effects, the early evidence is promising but there are few studies in people.
The plant has also shown some promise as an arthritis treatment