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Edible herb promises cure for liver cancer

  • Manithakkali is widely used in traditional system of medicine
  • It is 12 times more effective than Sorafenib in inducing the death of HepG2, the most sensitive liver cancer cell
  • Experiment in mice has shown drastic inhibition of growth of cancer cells
Edible herb cure for liver cancer
First Published Nov 15, 2016, 12:15 PM IST

There is no one cancer treatment method that's right for every man, but you have got a plenty of options and doctors decide the treatment considering various factors including the size of the tumour, how quickly the disease is likely to spread, the age of the patient, his health and personal preferences. 

However, liver cancer patients have fewer treatment options in comparison with others, and scientists are always looking for methods to prevent liver cancer. A team of scientists from four major institutes in India have recently found that an edible herb commonly grown as a waste weed across the country could provide a potent cure for liver cancer. According to the study, a compound called saponin, isolated from the leaves of Solanum nigrum, commonly known as Manithakkali in Kerala, exhibit anticancer activity against different cancer cell lines.

The team comprising researchers from Government Medical College, Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology,  National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram and National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, have found that the edible herb, which is widely used in traditional system of medicine, exhibits potent anticancer properties against different cancer cells.

The study has proved that a Saponin Uttroside B, isolated and characterised from the leaves of Solanum nigrum is ten times more potent than sorafenib, which is the only drug approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating liver cancer. The finding has been published in the November issue of Scientific Reports, an online journal by Nature Publishing Group. 

Solanum Nigrum also known as Black nightside, wonder berry or Sun berry is widely used in traditional medicine to treat liver and pancreas infections. The juice extracted from the leaves is used to treat allergies, skin infections, bronchitis, jaundice, asthma, inflammation, leprosy, urinary problems and piles. The plant, known for its digestive properties, nutritional value and ability to reduce vomiting sensation is used to prepare delicious recipes. 

The scientists have also found that uttroside B was 12 fold more effective than Sorafenib in inducing the death of HepG2, the most sensitive liver cancer cell. The uttroside B shows cytotoxicity to liver cancer cells and unlike Sorafenib, the compound extracted from the plant does not cause noticeable side effects. 

Experiment in mice has shown drastic inhibition of growth of cancer cells and the research team has applied for a patent on the finding and is trying to conduct clinical trials by collaborating with University of Oklahoma, USA.


The pictorial representation of antitumor experiment (Image source:

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