TODAY -

MU researchers find anti-cancer compound in Shamba leaf
Source: Chronicle News Service

Imphal, July 02 2022: A research team of Manipur University has found a new anti-cancer drug compound in the leaves of Oroxylum indicum (Shamba) .

The research work was carried out jointly by Dr Asem Robinson Singh, Salam Asbin Singh, Naorem Tarundas Singh and Dr Thangjam Davis Singh, under the supervision of MU Department of Biotechnology Cancer and Molecular Biology Lab Prof Lisam Shanjukumar Singh.

Speaking to The People's Chronicle in this regard, Prof Shanjukumar informed that the research team had been screening the various plant species available in Manipur for the last 4-5 years.

The team used Bioassay Guided Isolation Technology for isolation and purification of compounds having anti-cancer compound.

The research gained momentum when the then MU administrator Jarnail Singh procured a Preparative-HPLC for the department.

Informing that more than 60 percent of the cancer drugs available today are either natural products or their derivatives; Prof Shanjukumar highlighted that Manipur is a promising geographical area with a rich assortment of flora and as such, there is the need to explore the natural products which can be used in medical science and other scientific applications.

He then said that over 300 plant species were examined, out of which some were found to have anti cancer compound.

These include Oroxylum indicum (locally known as Shamba and in Hindi, Sona Patha/Shyonak).

He added: "Oroxylum indicum is used in many countries, particularly in south-eastern region of Asia, for its medicinal properties.

As per reports, its usages are mostly limited to the stem bark, root and fruit.

In the Ayurvedic system, parts of this plant are used to treat burns owing to its inflammatory properties.

The MU research team, however, focussed on a more sustainable approach towards harvesting plant parts for medicinal use by employing the leaves of the plant to hunt for bioactive components.

The team went through an arduous task of bulk extraction of the leaves and fractionation of the extract into various parts based on their chemical and physical properties.

Each fraction was analysed for bioactivity.

The effort yielded few fractions that were promising and led to potential candidates for anticancer molecules.

Further purification and separation of the fractions into individual compounds were achieved by using HPLC.

"The use of a preparative-HPLC sped up the work as the team had been working on utilising the limited resources available in the lab to the maximum.

After successful purification of the compound, it was tested for its bioactivity using various molecular techniques and maintaining world-class standards in the experimental processes so as to evade any scepticism by reviewers and critics in the field.

The new compound is 2-[p-(2-Carboxy-hydrazino) phenoxy]-6-(hydroxymethyl) tetrahydro-2H- pyran-3,4,5-triol.A common name "Oroxyquinone" was given, taking the words "oroxy" from the scientific name of the plant, "Oroxylum indicum" and "quinone'' from the name of the chemical ring structure quinone containing in the chemical", he explained.

Stating that the new compound can induce one of the processes of natural cell death called "Apoptosis" in cancer cells of prostate cancer, lung cancer and cervical cancer; the professor pointed out that having the activity of causing cancer cell death is the main characteristic of anticancer drugs.

Prof Shanjukumar then said that the team found the molecular mechanisms for causing natural cell death were different in different cancer types.

In prostate cancer, the new compound causes the process of natural cell death via activation of a protein known as AIF (apoptosis-inducing factor), whereas in other cancers, it causes natural cell death via the caspase and PARP pathways.

At very low concentrations the new compound can prevent cancer metastasis in prostate cancer, he added.

Although there are various chemotherapeutic drugs available for clinical use today, hunt for novel and new compounds is ongoing and has shown tremendous interest of researchers across the globe.

This is mainly due to the fact that there have been incidences of relapse and severe outcomes of side effects associated with many of the drugs.

Nephrotoxicity, hepatotoxicity, etc., are among the few known side effects of synthetic chemotherapeutic drugs.

Moreover, negligible numbers of researches are focused on cancer metastasis, he conveyed.

Prof Shanjukumar continued: "Cancer metastasis is the leading cause of death in cancer patients and is associated with 90 percent of mortality.

Currently, there is no such drug that has the ability to prevent metastasis.

In addition, most of the researches are focused on elimination of cancer cells rather than localisation of the tumour and preventing metastasis.

The newly discovered molecule being anti-metastatic in nature may be a promising therapeutic candidate in future metastasis prevention and research".

Informing that the finding was published recently in one of the esteemed journals called 'Pharmaceuticals' published by MDPI, Switzerland, the professor stated that the finding was published after extensive peer reviews and scrutiny at MU.

Therefore, the authorities of the Institute should encourage quality publications and research-oriented work that will put MU among the top Institutes of India, he stressed.

He then informed that the team is going to undergo further research like pre-clinical using animal models and clinical trials on humans and collaborating with institutes within the state as well as outside, for developing the newly discovered compound as a drug for cancer treatment.

Prof Sanjukumar, however, strongly urged all concerned not to use the plant or the new compound as a drug before successful pre-clinical and clinical trial studies, as it may contain other toxic compounds.

He also informed that in one of their studies on Croton caudatus Geiseler, Miracle Plant of Saikot of Manipur, the department found the plant contained a compound, which enhances or aggravates lung cancer progression.


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