Extracts of the fruit chikoo (sapota) can kill cancerous cells, according to a recent study by Indian scientists.
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science and the Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology, both in Bangalore, have demonstrated anti-cancer properties of sapota extracts in cancerous cell lines and in laboratory mice infected with the deadly disease. The findings have appeared in the Scientific Reports, an international journal from the Nature Publishing Group.
Apart from India, the tropical fruit is also grown and consumed extensively in several other countries including Mexico.
“The next step would be to identify the principle compound/ compounds leading to sapota’s anti-cancer effects. The advantage lies in the fact that once the active compound/compounds are identified, they can not only be synthesised in bulk in laboratory, but also can be modified further to increase the potency. Clinical trials may follow after identification and optimisation of purified component,” Dr. Sathees C Raghavan, the lead author of the study, told HT.
The phytochemicals (plant-based chemicals) in sapota extracts activate cell-death pathways. Tumour growth was inhibited, and the lifespan of the tumour-bearing animals increased when sapota extracts were used.
Methanolic extracts of sapota possess a number of active phytochemicals which can trigger pathway of programmed cell death (also known as apoptosis) in cancer cells and thus their progression. “However, whether sapota has cancer preventive effects needs to be tested. There are no side effects detected yet,” Raghavan said.