THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A berry-bearing plant found in the garden, ‘Manathakkali’ (Black nightshade or Solanum nigrum), is traditionally recognised for its therapeutic properties. Thanks to the discoveries of a team of scientists at Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has noted the potential of a chemical extracted from the plant to cure liver cancer (RGCB).
The molecule has been awarded the ‘orphan drug’ classification by the US Food and Drug Administration, which aids in the development and assessment of innovative medicines for uncommon disorders. It will also assist expedite the approval of the medicine. “At the moment, there is only one FDA-approved medicine available for liver cancer treatment,” said RGCB senior scientist Dr Ruby John Anto, who identified the therapeutic molecule — Uttroside-B — from the leaves of the Manathakkali plant with her student Dr Lekshmi R Nath. The chemical we created proved to be more effective than the one that was previously accessible. The chemical is also beneficial in curing fatty liver, according to toxicity testing in human volunteers.”
The technology they patented has been bought by US pharma company QBioMed. The technology transfer was done through Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
According to RGCB Director Dr Chandrabhas Narayana, the research will prove to be a major breakthrough in treatment of liver diseases, including liver cancer.
Manathakkali: RGCB director says findings path-breaking
“The findings are pathbreaking, given that the liver which primarily detoxifies food while aiding digestion is found to be increasingly susceptible to cancer in modern times. The malignant disease of the liver is estimated to kill no less than 8 lakh people annually even as 9 lakh new cases are reported every year,” said the RGCB director. Dr Ruby and her team is currently studying the mechanism of action of the compound and evaluating its efficacy against fatty liver disease, non-alcoholic SteatoHepatitis and liver cancer caused by food toxins. This is done in collaboration with Dr L Ravishankar (CSIR-NIST, Thiruvananthapuram), who has developed a novel method to isolate the compound from solanum nigrum leaves.