Penang, 21 Oct- Researchers from the Experimental Medicine & Advanced Natureceuticals Research Laboratory (EMAN), School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, USM have successfully produced a standardised, Misai Kucing (Orthosiphon Stamineus) herbal extract. Named CANSSUFIVE, the extract contains a high anti-oxidant content and studies carried out on cell cultures and animals have proven its ability to retard the growth of blood vessels.
“CANSSUFIVE shows very promising results in breast cancer treatment when given together with chemotherapy,” said the head of the research team, Dr. Amin Malik Shah bin Abdul Majid from the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, USM.
Clinical trials for CANSSUFIVE will be carried out soon so as to observe the effects on humans.
The project is led by Dr. Amin Malik Shah bin Abdul Majid with the collaboration of Prof. Zhari Ismail and a post-graduate researcher from Iraq, En. Hayder Sahib. The project is funded by grants from USM, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) and the state government of Perlis amounting to a total of approximately RM 1.5 million.
According to Dr. Amin, there are plans to commercialise the product in one years’ time after clinical trials have been conducted by the relevant parties. At present, the product is regarded as a health supplement and not for purposes of treatment.
Before it can be commercialized and turned into a source of treatment, the product needs to undergo a stringent process, including that of planting the herb and others to guarantee its quality and efficacy in the long term.
He added that chemotherapy treatment for cancer uses toxic chemicals to kill the cancer cells. This form of treatment, apart from having serious side effects may also cause allergic reactions. CANSSUFIVE is said to complement the current treatments available including chemotherapy.
Dr. Amin added that the new approach to treat cancer prevents the growth of blood vessels to the tumour cells. Tumour cells depend completely on a supply of oxygen and food received through the blood stream. When cancer cells grow, they stimulate the growth of new blood vesselss. In this way too, cancer cells spread to other tissues and organs.
Scientists have found that anti-oxidants can prevent the growth of cancer cells through “anti-angiogenic” techniques. There are no barriers to antiangiogenic agents and they have fewer side effects as well. When they are used in combination with chemotherapy, cancer recovery is improved. As the cost of the anti-angiogenic agents is high, the majority of cancer patients are unable to get access to it.
According to Dr. Amin, currently, the lower income group is at a disadvantage as the cost of the anti-angiogenic agents is high. A single dose is estimated to cost more than RM 8000. However, CANSSUFIVE is estimated to cost about RM 50.00 per dose only.
Generally, the number of cancer cases has increased in the country and also globally. Efforts in finding an effective cure are still not satisfactory as the number of deaths due to cancer is rising annually. Cancer treatments are also expensive and this is extremely burdensome to many patients.
According to Dr. Amin, approximately 10 million paients suffer from cancer and more than seven million people die from the disease.
There are many scientists in the world today who believe that herbal-based treatment can be used to treat serious diseases like cancer. With sophisticated technology that utilizes molecular biology techniques, it is possible to prove that herbal-based medications can be efficacious.