Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Indian Medicine Compound May Hold Clues to Prostate Cancer Prevention

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 30, 2007) − A University of Kentucky researcher has received funding to investigate an herbal compound used in Indian medicine that may have anti-prostate cancer mechanisms.

The National Institute for Health (NIH) has awarded Damodaran Chendil, assistant professor at the UK College of Health Sciences, Division of Clinical and Reproductive Sciences, $1.1 million to investigate the compound.

In previous studies, Chendil reported that the herbal preparation Rasagenthi Lehyam (RL), an herbal formulation used in Indian medicine, is an effective treatment for prostate cancer in an animal model.  The most potent compound of RL is psoralidin, which proved to have more potent anti-cancer effects in prostate cancer cells compared to the other isolated compounds identified in RL.  The action of psoralidin inhibits cancerous cell growth and tumor survival. Importantly, Chendil found psoralidin targets cancer cells without causing significant toxicity to normal prostate cells.

The focus of Chendil's current research will be to study how psoralidin functions to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells and tumors. The results of the study may lead to the identification of biomarkers for prostate cancer and the development of chemotherapeutic and/or chemopreventive strategies for prostate cancer.  Very little is known about psoralidin and Chendil's research is the first to study its action on prostate cancer cells.

"Treatment for cancer usually involves physically intense and expensive drug therapy, often with unwanted side effects," Chendil said.  "Some scientists suggest that cures for cancer and other diseases can be found in nature and such treatments may produce less harmful side effects.  I am excited about the potential this natural compound holds in helping to combat one of the most deadly cancers."

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men in the U.S. and many Western countries.  African-American men have had higher incidence and at least double the mortality rates compared to men of other racial and ethnic groups. Although early diagnosis of prostate cancer has improved significantly in recent years, there is a need for more effective treatment strategies for patients presenting with advanced or metastatic disease.  Risk factors for prostate cancer include: age, since 65 percent of cases diagnosed occur in men over 65, race and family history of the disease.

Symptoms of prostate cancer may include but are not limited to:

  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Difficulty or inability to urinate
  • Painful or burning urination