Scientists at North Carolina Central University and North Carolina A&T State University have discovered a promising use of ginger that may lead to the development of a treatment for anemia. Dr. TinChung Leung of NCCU and Dr. Shengemin Sang of N.C. A&T will present their findings April 3 at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Chicago.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a root that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Recent research has found it effective at reducing the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. It has also shown ginger to be effective at killing various cancers.
Now, Leung and Sang have found ginger and a compound it contains called Gingerol to be effective in treating anemia in zebrafish and mice. Anemia is a blood disorder in which there is a reduction in the number of circulating red blood cells, and it is a common side effect of cancer chemotherapy and renal disease.
The two researchers have found that ginger extract and its purified component increase red blood cell production (erythropoiesis) in transgenic zebrafish recovering from anemia, as well as in normal non-anemic zebrafish. They also discovered that ginger and its purified component stimulate a signaling pathway that encourages blood stem-cell formation. This finding provides insight for future study of the effect of ginger and its bioactive components in formation of blood cellular components in mammals. It has the potential to lead to development of novel erythropoiesis-promoting agents to treat anemia commonly associated with cancer chemotherapy.
Leung and Sang performed their research at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis, where both universities have a presence. Leung, a biologist, is affiliated with NCCU’s Julius L. Chambers Biomedical/Biotechnology Research Institute. Sang, a chemist, is affiliated with N.C. A&T’s Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies.