Cancer is one of the most threatening diseases in the world. World Health Organization (2012) reported that the two types of cancer that claimed the most victims in the world were lung cancer (1.69 million victims) and liver cancer (788,000 victims). Liver cancer or scientifically known as Hepatocelular Carcinoma (HCC) is an uncontrolled growth of malignant cells in the liver resulting from abnormal cells in the liver (primary) and as a result of the spread of cancer from other body parts (secondary). The Indonesian Liver Research Association (2013) stated that 80 percent of HCC cases in the world are in developing countries, such as in Central Africa, East Asia and Southeast Asia, including in Indonesia.
In the world of cancer treatment, surgery and chemotherapy are still the main therapeutic methods of HCC patients, besides prevention methods such as hepatitis B immunization. However, the application of therapeutic drugs has several limitations, such as side effects, hemopoietic suppression, limited efficacy, immunotoxicity and drug resistance. Both immunotherapy and chemotherapy require very high medical costs that cannot be afforded by people in developing countries like Indonesia, where the majority of the population is in the middle and lower economic status. This condition resulted in exploration for safer and more affordable treatment options, such as by using natural ingredients.
The use of polysaccharides as anti-cancer has been started since 1946 with the discovery of polysaccharides ability in inducing complete remission of cancer patients. Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus L.), also known as “slime nuts” in Riau and Arabic beans in West Kalimantan, is a plant that is rich in polysaccharides, vitamin C, and secondary metabolite compounds. This plant is popular in Indonesia as a food ingredient.
The research team from Faculty of Science and Technology is exploring the potential of Okra Raw Polysaccharide Extract (ORPE) as an anticancer and comparing the ability of anticancer with synthetic drugs commonly used for chemotherapy. ORPE extraction was carried out using absolute ethanol and water. Measurement of Huh7it cell growth and NK cell activation was carried out by the MTT method [3-4, 5- dimethylthiazole -2-il-2,5 diphenyltetrazolium bromide ]. Measurement of Huh7it cell apoptosis percentage was done by giving Annexin V-FITC antibodies and Propidium Iodide and analyzed by flowcytometry. The results showed that ORPE was able to inhibit the growth of Huh7it cancer cells significantly, increase NK cell activation, and trigger apoptosis in Huh7it cancer cells. The dose of ORPE with the most optimal anti-cancer ability is 600 µg / mL.
Interestingly, the administration of ORPE does not kill healthy cells (NK cells). This is different from the chemotherapy synthetic drug, doxorubicin. In the administration of doxorubicin 10 µg / ml only, activated NK cells are only 18.61%, meaning that more than half the cells died. This fact showed that ORPE has safer anticancer activity to be applied to humans. This study was also the first study of the pharmacological functions of okra in the realm of cancer immunology. Thus, the results of this study are expected to be an initial benchmark for further research in efforts to safe and affordable cancer cure.
Author: Prof. Win Darmanto, M.Si., Ph.D
Details of this article available at:
Suhailah Hayaza, Sri Puji Astuti Wahyuningsih, Raden Joko Kuncoroningrat Susilo, Adita Ayu Permanasari, Saikhu Akhmad Husen, Dwi Winarni, Hunsa Punnapayak1, Win Darmanto. 2019. Anticancer activity of okra raw polysaccharides extracts against human liver cancer cells. Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research August; 18 (8): 1667-1672.