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Scientific study on anti-cancer Siddha drug halted after 10 years for want of govt funding

Peethaambaran Kunnathoor, Chennai
Wednesday, May 30, 2012, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

A decade long scientific study by a team of ethno-pharmacologists on a traditional metallic anti-cancer drug, claimed to be effective for treating skin cancer, was halted due to lack of proper patronage and funding by government or by research institutions.

The study, which began with hopes of finding eternal cure for thousands of suffering patients, was a long cherished dream of a group of ethno-pharmacologists led by an academician, Dr Arul Amutham, of Melaka Manipal Medical College in Karnataka.

The team’s years of research on the herbometallic drug in Siddha system “Putru Pathangam” (PP) cannot be pursued and suspended for the time being due to lack of support and patronage. Dr Arul Amuthan, the ethno-pharmacologist with educational background in Indian traditional medicine was actively involved in the research to prove Putru Pathangam as an anticancer Siddha drug.

Regarding his research, Dr Amutham says there are two different aspects of research in traditional medicines. First one is to isolate the compound/chemical that is responsible for anticancer activity from the traditional formulation, which later becomes a new anticancer drug. Though it is highly expensive and time consuming, it is the proper way of research, he admits.

Second aspect is the study of efficacy and toxicity of the traditional formulations without changing their nature. Since the traditional drugs are being used for thousands of years and consumed by human beings, their use as drugs can be continued. He argues that based on the efficacy, certain traditional preparations can be used as anti-cancer drugs, either alone or combined with allopathic drugs, to get better synergic effect. Scientists started working on the second aspect since the evidence is already available in traditional literature and from practice. So the researchers are looking for new drugs from traditional medicines, he told Pharmabiz.

“Modern medicine compares cancer with crab symbol. But, Siddha medicine, which is the oldest medicine in the world, compares the disease with termite mound. Termite mound grows with irregular shape and spread to distant places through underground channels. It cannot be destroyed completely. With full knowledge about the virulent and metastatic characteristic nature of cancer disease, Siddha system named cancer disease as ‘Putru noi’ which means the disease of growth like termite mound. There are myriad descriptions about herbal and metallic drugs in Siddha for cancer disease. Among them ‘Putru Pathangam’ is one herbo-metallic drug used to treat cancer cases,” Dr Amutham said.

He said this drug has shown good anticancer activity against breast cancer cells, skin cancer cells and lung cancer cells. The interesting finding in the study of the drug was that the size of drug particle was in nano range which provided more advantages for more researches. Research in animal cancer model is going on by comparing with existing metallic anticancer drug, he added.

“We want to extent this study in all aspects right from standardization of drug preparation to clinical usage. This drug can be used alone to treat the drug resistant cancer cases and severe cancer cases. The adverse effects produced by this drug can be quashed by using certain herbals, which become another area of research. But we are struggling without proper funding. After knowing the traditional evidence and promising study results of this drug, we want to bring it to patient usage as early as possible. I can assure this traditional metallic anticancer drug will excel in the market for the management of cancer,” he claimed.


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