A natural extract derived from the neem tree, commonly found in India, could potentially be used to treat pancreatic cancer without harming normal, healthy cells, a new study has claimed.
Scientists tested nimbolide, a compound found in neem leaves, against pancreatic cancer in cell lines and mice.
The results showed that nimbolide can stop pancreatic cancer’s growth and metastasis without harming normal, healthy cells.
“The promise nimbolide has shown is amazing, and the specificity of the treatment towards cancer cells over normal cells is very intriguing,” said Rajkumar Lakshmanaswamy from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso).
Researchers observed that nimbolide was able to reduce the migration and invasion capabilities of pancreatic cancer cells by 70 per cent; meaning the cancerous cells did not become aggressive and spread.
According to researchers, that is promising. In humans, this migration and invasion-or metastasis-of pancreatic cancer to other regions of the body is the chief cause of mortality.
Nimbolide treatments also induced cancer cell death, causing the size and number of pancreatic cancer cell colonies to drop by 80 per cent.
“Nimbolide seems to attack pancreatic cancer from all angles,” said Lakshmanaswamy.
One of the most important findings is that nimbolide did not harm healthy cells in both the in vitro and in vivo experiments, researchers said.
Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all cancers with 94 per cent of patients dying within five years of diagnosis. The cancer grows quickly and there are currently no effective treatments available, underscoring the importance of finding new therapies.
“Many people in India actually eat neem and it does not have harmful side effects, which suggests that using nimbolide for pancreatic cancer will not cause adverse effects like chemotherapy and radiation typically do,” said Ramadevi Subramani from TTUHSC El Paso.
The findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.