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El guayule y el cuachalalate, con propiedades anticancerígenas. También son antinflamatorios

Fecha: 
Mié, 2014-06-18

Los compuestos de esas plantas no dañan las células sanas, explica Mario Martínez Vázquez

Hacen que el crecimiento tumoral sea lento, con la ventaja adicional de que presentan baja toxicidad, señala el investigador de la UNAM

 

Emir Olivares Alonso

 

Periódico La Jornada
Miércoles 18 de junio de 2014, p. 6

Las plantas guardan en su estructura compuestos que pueden ayudar a combatir ciertas enfermedades. Bajo esa premisa, científicos de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) obtuvieron a partir de las plantas guayule y cuachalalate compuestos antinflamatorios y anticancerígenos que han sido probados en ratones con resultados favorables.

Los científicos del Departamento de Productos Naturales del Instituto de Química de la casa de estudios han observado que en roedores a los que les inocularon células cancerosas humanas, el uso de estos compuestos resultan menos tóxicos y más efectivos que los medicamentos anticancerígenos convencionales, además que no dañan las células normales.

Mario Martínez Vázquez, líder de la investigación, planteó que ahora sólo falta probar estos avances en humanos para conocer su eficacia real. El equipo de investigadores ya cuenta con las pruebas preclínicas necesarias para comenzar a trabajar con personas.

Los compuestos del guayule(Parthenium argentatum) y del cuachalalate (Amphipterygium adstringens) han sido comparados con medicamentos que se utilizan para tratar el cáncer. Al hacerlo vimos que nuestros compuestos hacen que el crecimiento tumoral sea lento, con la ventaja adicional de que presentan baja toxicidad, dijo Martínez Vázquez.

Estas plantas contienen gran cantidad de triterpenos, sustancias con actividad antinflamatoria y enorme capacidad para inhibir la proliferación de células cancerosas humanas.

Conocedores de esto, los investigadores universitarios lo tomaron como su punto de partida. Empezamos a estudiar sustancias puras obtenidas de estas plantas, de las que a su vez conseguimos una serie de derivados en los que buscamos las partes fundamentales de la molécula y elegimos el compuesto más activo.

Los trabajos del equipo de investigación –difundidos en Gaceta UNAM– se aplican en modelos xenográficos (animales con trasplantes de cánceres humanos o de otros tejidos). Implantan células tumorales humanas en ratones atímicos o desnudos, sin pelo. Estos roedores de laboratorio tienen el sistema inmune deprimido debido a una mutación genética, lo que permite que puedan recibir tejidos enfermos de otras especies sin experimentar rechazo.

“A los atímicos les inoculamos células de próstata, de mama o de otros cánceres, para que desarrollen un tumor humano. De esta manera experimentamos nuestros compuestos in vivo”.

Los hallazgos de Martínez Vázquez y sus colaboradores asientan que al comparar los compuestos de dichas plantas con fármacos como el cisplatino, hallaron que los primeros tienen la misma potencia para reducir el crecimiento tumoral. Por ello ahora tratan de analizar cuáles son los blancos de su molécula.

Sabemos que nuestros compuestos atacan preferentemente dos enzimas: la AKT y la NF-kappa, las cuales se sobrexpresan en diferentes cánceres. Trabajamos principalmente con la AKT porque se manifiesta en forma por demás clara en dos tipos de cáncer comunes: de próstata y mama.

Estos estudios se realizan en colaboración con Alejandro Centella Dehesa, académico del Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas de la UNAM y colaborador del Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán. Ahora sólo falta probarlos en humanos. Ya tenemos las pruebas preclínicas para empezar a trabajar con personas. Hemos hecho todo lo necesario.