Leukemia cells may be killed by chlorophyll

Pheophorbide a, a moiety of chlorophyll a, induces apoptosis in human lymphoid leukemia Molt 4B cells.

Hibasami, H. et. al. Int. J. Mol. Med. 2000. 6(3):277-9

Background:  Pheophorbide is a product that occurs when chlorophyll—the green plant pigment—breaks down.  Pheophorbide can sensitize cancer cells to light (photosensitization) and is currently being investigated as an anti-cancer agent.  In this study, the researchers looked at the ability of pheophorbide to slow the growth of a leukemia cell line (Molt 4B) and to force the cancer cells into a kind of pre-programmed cell death called apoptosis.

Laboratory Studies:  These researchers looked at how pheophorbide caused the DNA in the tumor cells to break apart into smaller, un-useable pieces or fragments.

Conclusions:  The study showed that pheophorbide works to kill off cancer cells by causing the DNA in the cancer cells to break apart into smaller non-functional pieces.  The breakdown of the DNA resulted in the eventual death of the cancer cells.