Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Chemistry and Biochemistry


Chemistry, Biochemistry.




One of the current challenges in the fight against cancer is to find anti-cancer treatments that specifically target cancerous cells, while leaving normal cells unharmed. Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, is a non-traumatic, physiological process by which cells that are no longer needed or are potentially harmful can be removed from the system. Recently, anti-cancer research has focused on targeting the components of biochemical pathways that can induce apoptosis specifically in cancerous cells. The search for cancer-specific drugs has led some researchers to investigate the potential anti-cancer activity of natural compounds. Pancratistatin (PST) is a natural compound that was isolated from the spider lily Pancratium littorale and has shown to exhibit antineoplastic activity. The specificity of PST to cancer cells and the mechanism of its action remain unknown. In this study, we provide a detailed look at the effect of PST treatment on several types of cancerous and normal cells. Our results indicate that PST induced apoptosis selectively and effectively in cancer cells, while normal cells were not affected. In this study we have found that PST activates the intrinsic apoptotic pathway in cancerous cells and our results indicate that the mitochondria may be the site of action of PST in cancer cells, as experiments using isolated mitochondria have shown that only the mitochondria isolated from cancerous cells are vulnerable to PST treatment. This study has demonstrated the novel anti-cancer potential of the natural compound Pancratistatin and provided insight into a possible biochemical target available only in cancerous mitochondria that may allow us to specifically target cancer.Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis2006 .M355. Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 45-01, page: 0320. Thesis (M.Sc.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 2006.