Date published:

Prof. Anna Goździcka-Józefiak and Dr Alicja Warowicka: The (magical) swallowwort

Extract from the greater celandine (Chelidonium Majus L.) that is also known as swallowwort has enormous healing potential. The herb can become a weapon in the fight against dangerous diseases. It destroys not only cancer cells, but also bacteria, viruses and fungi. The molecular mechanism behind this phenomenon was discovered by Prof. Anna Goździcka-Józefiak and Dr Alicja Warowicka.

The team of researchers proved that a compound called heterogeneous fraction of berberine, which included pure berberine and its derivatives, is responsible for the therapeutic effect of swallowwort extract. The chemical compounds involved work in synergy to create a stronger pharmacological effect. They can form a molecule that has important functions in a cell, including regulating cell death.

The discovery by the Poznań scientists can help in the treatment of endometriosis and cervical cancer caused by the human papillomavirus HPV. One of the effects observed in the laboratory was that the substance can inhibit the proliferation of uterine mucosal cells in endometriosis. This suggests that the study may lead to the development of an effective cure for endometriosis, a debilitating disease that can contribute to infertility and cancer.

Swallowwort, however, still has many secrets. The plant’s proteins are being studied by Prof. Robert Nawrot, while Dr Warowicka continues her research on berberine and nanomaterials. The discoveries by AMU biologists are likely going to contribute to a wider use of berberin for medical purposes.