With breast cancer plaguing the United States as the second leading cause of cancer related deaths amongst women, as well as the adverse effects of current treatment options there is a need to develop safer and noninvasive treatments. Triptolide is an extract from the herb Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F, and has been used in Chinese medicine for over two centuries and is now used to treat certain autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Based on the anti-proliferative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties of triptolide we believe that it will stimulate apoptosis in human breast cancer cells. Triptolide is known to induce apoptosis in many cancer cells lines, but the exact mechanisms that regulate this are largely unknown. It has been suggested that triptolide activates the p53 pathway to trigger apoptosis in these cells. However, we believe that there are other mechanisms at work including the activation of lysosomal-mediated apoptosis.
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