Kerala's local herb 'Manathakkali' approved for liver cancer, research gets US FDA nod

‘Manathakkali’ (Black nightshade or Solanum nigrum), a berry-bearing shrub found in the backyard, is traditionally known for its medicinal value.

Published: 04th November 2021 06:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th November 2021 06:38 AM   |  A+A-

Manathakkali — Black nightshade or Solanum nigrum — is a berry-bearing shrub found commonly in the backyard

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: ‘Manathakkali’ (Black nightshade or Solanum nigrum), a berry-bearing shrub found in the backyard, is traditionally known for its medicinal value. Now the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has noticed the potential of a compound isolated from the plant to treat liver cancer, thanks to the findings of a team of scientists at Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB).

The US agency has given the compound an ‘orphan drug’ designation, which helps in the development and evaluation of new treatments for rare diseases. It will also help fast-track the drug’s approval. RGCB senior scientist Dr Ruby John Anto, who along with her student Dr Lekshmi R Nath isolated the drug molecule — Uttroside-B — from the leaves of Manathakkali plant, said: “There is only one FDA-approved drug available for liver cancer treatment at present. The compound we developed has found to be more effective than the one available. Toxicity evaluation in human volunteers has shown that the compound is also effective in treating fatty liver.”

The technology they patented has been bought by US pharma company QBioMed. The technology transfer was done through Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.

According to RGCB Director Dr Chandrabhas Narayana, the research will prove to be a major breakthrough in treatment of liver diseases, including liver cancer. 

Manathakkali: RGCB director says findings path-breaking

“The findings are pathbreaking, given that the liver which primarily detoxifies food while aiding digestion is found to be increasingly susceptible to cancer in modern times. The malignant disease of the liver is estimated to kill no less than 8 lakh people annually even as 9 lakh new cases are reported every year,” said the RGCB director. Dr Ruby and her team is currently studying the mechanism of action of the compound and evaluating its efficacy against fatty liver disease, non-alcoholic SteatoHepatitis and liver cancer caused by food toxins. This is done in collaboration with Dr L Ravishankar (CSIR-NIST, Thiruvananthapuram), who has developed a novel method to isolate the compound from solanum nigrum leaves.


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  • mida perme

    its a local delicacy herbs for my tribal people
    2 months ago reply
  • Dhilip

    Rather US FDA can allow the import of Manathakkali keerai and ask people to consume like a food on a regular basis (food based prophylaxis) to avoid the liver cancer itself....
    2 months ago reply
  • Dr. M.

    There are two species. In one the fruits will be in dark bluish violet and the other one will be in Orange colour. Both are nice herbs.
    2 months ago reply
  • Dr. CPL

    Great news. But an ‘orphan drug’ designation is NOT yet a drug approval (as the headline implies). It only means that the drug will benefit from certain advantages during its development - and later on the market
    2 months ago reply
  • Surender

    Solanum nigrum is present in every area of Haryana but here people's are using for treatment of arthritis.
    2 months ago reply
  • K.Chandramohan, Advocate, Ooty.

    Good news . The plant is very common in the hills. Of Nilgiris. I am surprised to know that the plant is native of Kerala state.
    2 months ago reply
  • m g swaminathan

    Kudos to our Kerala researchers for getting approval of the US Food Administration in liver cancer treatment with the local herb "Manathakkali!
    2 months ago reply
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