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Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Elliott J. Blumenthal


Department of Biology

University Affiliation

Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne

IPFW Sigma Xi (Scientific Research Honor Society) Student Research Competition

Best Graduate Student Poster Presentation


It is widely accepted that elderberry (Sambucus nigra) has many positive health benefits, some of which might slow the rate of cancer growth. The objective of this research is to identify active components of elderberry capable of modulating melanoma cell proliferation in both in vitro experiments and in an in vivo murine model. Melanoma is of interest because incidence of melanoma increases annually and treatment of melanoma is crucial before stages of metastasis. A diet including elderberry extracts may be a naturopathic strategy to slow melanoma growth in at-risk patients, including elderly and immune-suppressed individuals.

In a murine model, groups of mice were given intraperitoneal injections of either sterile water (control) or sterile crude elderberry (treatment) before challenge by murine melanoma. 13 days following successful cancer cell challenge, mice were sacrificed and tumor size and weight were recorded. On average, control mice had larger tumors compared to treatment mice in both tumor size and weight. Also, two out of three control mouse tumors metastasized into the peritoneal cavity (whereas all treatment mouse tumors remained local), suggesting that crude elderberry may also decrease risk of tumor metastasis.

Elderberry extracts were separated and purified. Human melanoma (MeWo) cells were supplemented with individual elderberry fractions to examine tumor suppressive activity by radioactive thymidine uptake assays. Several elderberry fractions showed in vitro evidence of decreased melanoma proliferation and were pooled based upon similar suppressive abilities. These pooled fractions suppressed human neuroblastoma (SH-545Y) and murine melanoma (B16 F10) growth in vitro, suggesting that pooled elderberry fractions are effective in suppressing multiple lines of cancers.

I am currently preparing active pooled elderberry fractions to use in a similar murine model. Proper identification of melanoma-suppressing elderberry fractions may lead to diet-based strategies for natural suppression of melanoma.


Biology | Life Sciences

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) shows promise as a naturopathic treatment against melanoma in vivo and several elderberry fractions decrease melanoma and neuroblastoma cell proliferation in vitro

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