New drug molecule to treat liver cancer

Uttroside-B is isolated from the leaves of ‘Manathakkali’

November 03, 2021 08:34 pm | Updated 08:34 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

A compound, Uttroside-B, isolated from the leaves of a perennial shrub and a nightshade, Solanum nigrum , by a team of researchers at the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology has been found to be an effective chemotherapeutic agent against liver cancer.

The drug molecule Uttroside-B was isolated from the leaves of ‘Manathakkali’, found growing wild in the backyards of houses in Kerala, by Ruby John Anto and Lekshmi R. Nath of the RGCB.

The compound has received the designation of orphan drug from the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, a release issued by the RGCB said here.

Orphan drug designation supports development and evaluation of new treatments for rare diseases and allows fast track approval of the drug.

The technology, patented by Dr. Anto and Dr. Nath, has been bought by the U.S. pharma company QbioMed, which has already handed over the first milestone payment. The technology transfer was done through the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF).

RGCB Director Chandrabhas Narayana said the research could prove to be a major breakthrough in the treatment of liver cancer, the incidence of which had been growing in recent times.

Dr. Ruby and her team are currently studying the mechanism of action of Uttroside-B and evaluating its efficacy against fatty liver disease, non-alcoholic Steato Hepatitis (NASH), and liver cancer.

They have teamed up with L. Ravishankar of CSIR-NIST, who has developed a novel method to isolate the compound from the leaves of Solanum nigrum .

Dr. Anto said Uttroside-B had been found to be more effective in treating liver cancer than the lone FDA-approved drug available now. Toxicity evaluation in human volunteers had shown that the compound was also effective in treating fatty liver.

Recent results from her lab also indicated that the therapeutic efficacy of Uttroside-B against liver cancer could be enhanced, if used in combination with Chloroquine phosphate, a drug already in use against malaria, the release said.

The research work was published in the Nature group of Journal, Scientific Reports 6:36318 doi: 10.1038/srep36318, 2016

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