A team of researchers from Chittaranjan national cancer institute in Calcutta discovered the medicinal properties of the neem tree. The team took a major stride towards developing a potential anti-cancer drug when they isolated. from neem leaves, a compound which can buck up the immune system’s fight against the rogue cells.
After seven years of research now scientist are close to testing it on human beings. Unlike chemotherapy drugs, this compound does not kill the tumour, but help in the proliferation of immune cells that attack cancer cells. The neem leaf contains glycoprotein that is found to restrict the growth of cancer.
In a paper published in human immunological journal these scientist disclosed the result of a study they conducted on 17 patients suffering from severe cervical cancer and the results was really encouraging. More important the compound was found to be absolutely safe when they tested it on animals. The immune system help us to ward against various diseases but when cancer occurs, a biochemical cycle is set in motion, allowing cancer cells to multiply. The cycle makes sure that immune cells are deprived of a key amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan absorbed from cereals, legumes, fruit and meat that is not only important for growth, but vital for cells to maintain their viability.
T cells, the body’s first line of defence against hostile invaders depend on tryptophan. On the other hand in cancer cells tryptophan undergoes a cascade of chemical transformation because of IDO, IDO depletes tryptophan and thus stave the T cells of tryptophan. This is where the neem compound comes to the rescue. The neem compound reduces the concentration of IDO and thus empower T cells with tryptophan.
Research is on, to find out whether the neem compound can really make our immunity strong enough to fight the cancer cells and if yes , then to what extent ? furthermore, cancer cells grow very rapidly, so much so that sometimes they do not get enough blood supply – this condition is called tumour hypoxia. It is serious since such cells are resistant to radiation and chemotherapy. Can neem compound also help fight against such cells? We are awaiting in anticipation further conclusions from this research.