Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Canadian men, and about one in seven men is diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime. Despite huge investment into prostate cancer research, there is still no curative therapy for advanced prostate cancer.
Combination therapy, a treatment that uses two or more medications, has won an increasing research interest among scientists. Combination therapy has great advantages in enhancing toxicity on cancer cells and slowing cellular drug resistance.
Docetaxel has been considered as one of the most effective drugs for advanced prostate cancer. In order to enhance its efficacy in cancer treatment, researchers are always on the lookout for other therapeutical agents that can be used together with docetaxel to exert synergistic activities.
Ginsenosides are active compounds with anticancer properties in ginseng. Scientists have found that ginsenosides can not only exert toxicity on various cancerous cells but also inhibit cellular drug resistance.
Based on the advantages of ginsenosides as a natural herb with relatively low toxicity, a research team from the Prostate Centre at Vancouver General Hospital, Canada explored the therapeutical potential of the combination of docetaxel with ginsenoside Rh2 and ginsenoside aPPD against prostate cancer cells in vitro and in vivo.
In the experiments, the effects of the ginsenoside Rh2 or aPPD and docetaxel against four prostate cancer cell lines PC-3, LNCaP, DU145, and C4-2 were determined in vitro. The results showed that the PC-3 tumors treated with ginsenoside Rh2 and docetaxel, and ginsenoside aPPD and docetaxel shrank from their initial size by 15% and 17% respectively. In vitro, experimental animals treated the combination of ginsenoside Rh2 or ginsenoside aPPD and docetaxel were observed lower tumor cell proliferation, compared to those treated with docetaxel alone.
The study indicated that ginsenoside Rh2 and ginsenoside aPPD can be combined with docetaxel to yield a synergistic activity against prostate cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. Experiments should be conducted to confirm the effects of the combination of ginsenoside Rh2 or aPPD and docetaxel in human.