Scientists claim breakthrough in cervical cancer research
A team of researchers from Universiti Putra Malaysia has discovered a natural compound, isolated from a local herbal plant named "lempoyang" which it claims can prevent and treat cervical cancer.
Lempoyang is a flowering plant from the ginger family which is commonly found in Peninsular Malaysia.
The compound is the first reported and documented finding that substantiated the ability of a natural compound of local plant origin to eliminate cancer cells of the cervix.
It has safer anti-cancer properties as it specifically targets cancer cells and does not cause damage to normal cell tissues even at high dosages, unlike most synthetic anti-cancer drugs which are highly toxic, local media reports said today.
BioMedical Sciences Department lecturer and research associate Dr Ahmad Bustamam Abdul, who led the team, said, "Our preliminary pre-clinical studies have shown that this natural compound is able to inhibit the progression of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) stage III in animal disease model studies."
The compound had similar efficacy to commercial anti-cancer drugs used frequently to treat cervical cancer but delivering lesser toxicity in normal human cells, he said.
"Our data also showed that laboratory rats could withstand high dosages of the compound without any damage to normal tissues," he said.
The compound, which can be commercialised in the form of feminine douches and suppositories, does not have any known side effects, he said.
He said the commercialisation of the technology would definitely reduce the cost of importing therapeutic drugs and treating cervical cancer patients as the compound could be used as an adjuvant to current chemotherapy.
A patent has been filed in respect of the technology in the use of plant metabolite as an anti-cancer alternative.
Cervical cancer is abnormal cell growth in the cervix which is primarily caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).