This study is done with human cell line xenografts in athymic nude mice. The so called Xenotransplantation is the transplantation of living cells, tissues or organs from one species to another in this case into mice. Xenotransplantation of human tumor cells is a research technique frequently used in pre-clinical research.
The study focused on squamous cell head and neck cancers, something more frequent among those who use tobacco and alcohol. According to the National Cancer Institute, at least 3 in 4 head and neck cancers are caused by the use of tobacco and alcohol. The cancers have only a 50 percent survival rate, killing some 20,000 Americans each year.
Enter Honokiol–chemical formula C18H18O2. Alabama scientists have discovered how it works against head and neck cancers. It blocks a protein called epidermal growth factor receptor, or EGFR. Prior research has found that almost all head and neck cancer cells have an over-abundance of the protein, and it had been suggested in the literature as a potential target for treatment.
The VA-UAB team says, based on its lab studies, that honokiol binds more strongly with EGFR than does the drug Gefitinib (sold as Iressa), which is commonly used to treat head and neck cancers.
Senior author Dr. Santosh K. Katiyar and his colleagues wrote, “Conclusively, honokiol appears to be an attractive bioactive small molecule phytochemical for the management of head and neck cancer which can be used either alone or in combination with other available therapeutic drugs.”