The Denver-based AMC Cancer Research Center has been awarded a two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the preventive effects of a bark extract on prostate cancer.
The patent-pending compound, extracted from Phellodendron trees commonly found in Asia, is manufactured by Next Pharmaceuticals under the brand name Nexrutine. It is currently marketed as a natural anti-inflammatory agent and pain reliever in dietary supplements.
Laboratory studies by Dr Pratap Kumar at the not-for-profit institute AMC have found Nexrutine to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells through modulation of key components of the cell survival-signaling pathway.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer, other than skin cancer, among men in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2003, about 220,900 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed and 28,900 men will die of the disease. Currently, there are no effective strategies available for its management.
"Obtaining funding from NIH to evaluate the ability of this nutritive supplement using preclinical animal models is timely and we strongly believe that this work will make an important contribution towards the management of prostate cancer," said Dr Kumar, principal investigator of the study.
Nexrutine, a selective COX-2 inhibitor, is also said to reduce pain, without the gastrointestinal irritation, commonly caused by aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It is currently under investigation in a placebo-controlled clinical trial to further establish its efficacy.
California-based Next Pharmaceuticals was recently issued a patent for use of magnolia extracts, a key component in its anti-stress ingredient Relora.