A new drug molecule to treat liver cancer

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A compound, Uttroside-B, isolated from the leaves of a perennial shrub and nightshade, Black solanum, by a team of researchers from the Rajiv Gandhi Center for Biotechnology has been shown 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 Kerala houses, by Ruby John Anto and Lekshmi R. Nath of the RGCB.

The compound has received orphan drug designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to a statement released by the RGCB.

The orphan drug designation supports the development and evaluation of new treatments for rare diseases and enables rapid drug approval.

The technology, patented by Dr Anto and Dr Nath, was purchased by US pharmaceutical company QbioMed, which has already remitted 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 has increased in recent times.

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

They teamed up with L. Ravishankar of CSIR-NIST, who developed a new method to isolate the compound from leaves of Black solanum.

Dr Anto said Uttroside-B has been shown to be more effective in treating liver cancer than the only FDA-approved drug currently available. Evaluation of toxicity in human volunteers showed that the compound was also effective in the treatment of fatty liver disease.

Recent results from his laboratory also indicated that the therapeutic efficacy of Uttroside-B against liver cancer could be improved if it was used in combination with chloroquine phosphate, a drug already used against malaria, according to the press release.

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


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