Cucurbitaceae - syn.Trichosanthes japonica Regel;
gua lou, Chinese snakegourd, Schlangenkürbis, Schlangengurke, Himmelsgurke
Dioecious perennial climber, up to 10m; native to Central and Southwest China, Korea and Japan; leaves alternate, cordate, 3-lobed, 12cm across, often with white dots; flowers white, solitary; fleshy, ovoid, yellow-ornage fruit with many flat seeds.
„This plant is the source of „tian hua fen“ (the roots), „gua lou zi“ (the seeds), and „gua lou pi“ (the fruit rind), which are official source drugs in traditional Chinese medicine.“ [http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200022774]
„Trichosanthin and alpha-momorcharin are abortifacient proteins extracted from Chinese medicinal herbs. Study of their in vitro cytotoxicities showed that the two proteins selectively injured choriocarcinoma and melanoma cells. Hepatoma cells represented the most resistant cell line among the various cell lines investigated. Cytotoxicity profiles of trichosanthin and alpha-momorcharin differed from those of anti-cancer drugs which interfere with DNA metabolism such as cisplatin, methotrexate and 5-fluorouracil. Radioactive precursor incorporation studies suggested that the two abortifacient proteins inhibited cellular protein synthesis.“ [Toxicities of trichosanthin and alpha-momorcharin, abortifacient proteins from Chinese medicinal plants, on cultured tumor cell lines. Tsao, S. W., Ng, T. B., & Yeung, H. W., Toxicon, Vol.28(10), 1990, 1183-1192]