Scientists of city-based NIPER have claimed to have found that Nimbolide, a chemical compound derived from Neem leaves and flowers, may efficiently work towards curing breast cancer.
They are approaching various agencies such as the departments of biotechnology, AYUSH and, science and technology for funding to carry out further research and take up clinical trials, said scientist Chandraiah Godugu.
The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) scientists found that Nimbolide significantly inhibited the growth of breast cancer, he said.
Currently, further studies were being carried out to facilitate clinical trials, Godugu said.
It might also become the cheapest anti-cancer drug by implementing advanced technological processes of production as Neem tree was found ubiquitously in India, the scientist said.
In addition to its anti-cancer property, it may prove to be a promising chemo preventive agent, said Godugu, who is part of the research programme.
He said though various parts of a Neem plant were used traditionally to cure multiple disorders, scientific evidence for their rationale was lacking.
"We recently proved anti-cancer efficacy of Nimbolide in breast cancer by novel molecular pathways. It induces cell death and inhibits proliferation of cancer cells."We found that Nimbolide significantly inhibited the growth of breast cancer and triple negative breast cancer cells...," he told PTI in an email notes.
He said Neem tree (Azadirachta Indica) has a great value in Indian system of medicine and holds a significant place in the Ayurveda.
It possesses many properties, like it is anti-microbial, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory, the scientist said.
"Its anti-cancer activity has been widely explored which is largely due to its active constituent Nimbolide. It is a novel compound with promising pre-clinical efficacy against multiple types of cancer," Godugu said.
However, the clinical translation has been hampered due to unexplored pharmacokinetics of this novel molecule with immense potential for clinical translation, he added.
In order to solve the riddle of oral bio-availability and pharmacokinetics of Nimbolide, the NIPER made a team of experts in the area of pharmacology and pharmaceutical analysis comprising Shandilya Baira, Amit Khurana, Jaganmohan Somagoni, R Srinivas, Godugu, M V N Kumar Talluri.
"Nimbolide may even reduce the severe side effects associated with chemotherapeutic drugs. As it shows anticancer activity by attacking multiple pathways, the chances of drug resistance are very low. "It may prove beneficial against relapsed tumour which poses the challenge of drug resistance. It may even kill the dormant and resistant cancer stem cells," the scientist said.
He said they may expect a formulation of clinical translational value in the next four to five years with entry of the most promising formulation to the Phase-I clinical trials.
NIPER, Hyderabad, is an "Institute of National Importance" with proclaimed objectives of becoming Centre of Excellence for advanced research in pharmaceutical sciences.