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Berry's chemotherapy role analysed

Scientists believe a wild berry native to North America may strengthen the effectiveness of a chemotherapy drug commonly used to treat pancreatic cancer.

A study by researchers at King's College Hospital and the University of Southampton suggests that adding nutraceuticals to chemotherapy cycles may improve the effectiveness of conventional drugs, particularly in hard to treat cancers, such as pancreatic cancer.

For the research published online in the Journal of Clinical Pathology, the team tested the effectiveness of extract of chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) in killing off cancer cells, probably by apoptosis (programmed cell death) as markers of early apoptosis appear in treated cells.

Chokeberry is a wild berry that grows on the eastern side of North America in wetlands and swamp areas.

The berry is high in vitamins and antioxidants, including various polyphenols - compounds that are believed to mop up the harmful by-products of normal cell activity.

Dr Harcharan Rooprai, of King's College Hospital, said: "The promising results seen are encouraging and suggest that these polyphenols have great therapeutic potential not only for brain tumours but pancreatic cancer as well."

The study was funded by The Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia and Have a Chance Inc, USA.

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