Anticancer Effects

Emerging evidence clearly indicates that hypericin is a promising tool in the photodynamic treatment of cancers. St John's wort appears to selectively photosensitise tumour cells. More recently, evidence suggests that when hyperthermia is combined with this approach, the antitumour effects of hypericin are strengthened (Chen et al 2002). Hyperforin also exhibits antineoplastic potential based on the sum of its anticarcinogenic, antiproliferant, pro-apoptotic, anti-invasive and antimetastasic effects (Medina et al 2006). Hyperforin has been shown to effectively decrease the proliferation rates of a number of mammalian cancer cell lines, induce apoptosis of tumour cells and inhibit angiogenesis both in vitro and in vivo. Besides hypericin and hyperforin, polyphenols procyanidin B2 has also demonstrated an inhibitory effect on the growth of leukaemia cells, brain glioblastoma cells and normal human astrocytes in vitro (Hostanska et al 2003). Further, the inhibitory effects on leukaemic cell growth were synergistically strengthened when hypericin and hyperforin were tested together. © 2007 Elsevier Australia

Clinical note — Photodynamic therapy for tumour cells

Photodynamic therapy is primarily an experimental treatment designed to destroy tumour cells without damaging surrounding normal tissues. This treatment involves the combination of a photosensitising substance, which is taken up and stored within tumour cells, and then the application of visible light at a wavelength matching the absorption spectrum of the photosensitising substance (Agostinis et al 2002). This combination approach results in the production of cytotoxic oxygen singlets within the tumour that cause irreversible cellular damage and tumour destruction.

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