An-Najah Student Discovers a New Treatment for Cancer and Microbial Infections
Ms. Reem Sbeih, Teaching and Research Assistance at An-Najah National University who holds a Master of pharmaceutical sciences and specializes in pharmacognosy and medicinal chemistry has recently conducted a research titled: "Screening of Biological Activities of Nicotiana tabaccum, chiliadenus iphionoides and Urginea maritima Against Cancer and Microbial Infections".
The study started as an idea for Ms. Sbeih's master's thesis.
When we interviewed Ms. Sbeih she said: "The motive behind my study was the saying of our Prophet Mohammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him: 'there is no disease without a treatment' and my love for pharmacognosy and phytotherapy sciences also motivated me to conduct the research."
The purpose of the study is to find an effective medicine that treats and prevents Cancer and many other non-treatable diseases, such as neurological diseases, as well as the search for new antibiotics for microbial infections that have become resistant to many antibiotics.
Ms. Sbeih mentioned that the idea started with an observation for the spread of tobacco crops in the plains of Jenin for economic and commercial purposes. Unfortunately, the corps exhaust the soil components because farmers cannot use the soil to grow any plant other than tobacco. This plant also needs high quantities of fertilizers, robbing the fertile components of the soil, just like cancer cells.
The idea then started to focus on the effect of nicotiana tabaccum roots on cancer cells before the addition of the other two wild plants, Chiliadenus iphionoides entire plant and Urginea maritima bulb. The plants were prevalent during the time of the year as the weather was extremely hot and wet, as plants living in such difficult climatic conditions of high temperature and humidity, can produce very active biological compounds that enable them to adapt and live in that environment. Therefore, more research has been done to study the biological effect against antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections as it is a global problem that threatens human health.
Referring to previous studies, Ms. Sbeih found that the relevant research was done on the leaves and there were no studies conducted on the roots. That motivated her to complete her idea and explore the results by herself.
She said: "I started the work in November, 2017 after collecting the plants from my village (Kafra'i) in Jenin. Then I washed the plants and dried them and started the extraction process for their natural ingredients. I obtained four extracts for each plant one was aqueous and three were organic. Then the work was conducted in the laboratories of the faculties of medicine and science at An-Najah National University where I examined the biological efficiency of these plants."
The study exhibited that Nicotiana tabaccum roots showed a strong toxic effect against cancer cells. Two of its organic extracts were able to kill the cancer cells within a short period of time. The result was much better than the results of chemotherapeutic agent (doxorubicin) that was used as positive control. In addition, it has also demonstrated high antioxidant capacity. The result was exactly the same as the Trolox's; vitamin E analogue which was used as positive control. On the other hand, these roots showed strong biological efficacy against most of the tested microorganisms.
As for Chiladenus iphionoides, all of its extracts showed great biological efficacy against all tested bacteria. It was also able to kill cancer cells and showed their activity as antioxidants. The result surpassed the results of Trolox.
On the other hand, Urginea maritima bulb showed a strong toxic effect against cancer cells while its ability as antioxidants and microbes was very weak.
Through this study, Ms. Sbeih conducted four research papers; namely, screening of biological activity of Nicotiana tabaccum, chiliadenus iphionoides and Urginea maritima against and microbial infections, screening of cytotoxicity and antioxidant activity of Nicotiana tabaccum roots, screening of cytotoxicity and antioxidant activity of chiliadenus iphionoides and screening of cytotoxicity and antioxidant activity of Urginea maritima bulb.
The papers will be ready for publication in few months.
The research findings are of great importance and open up prospects for other new research, especially the findings about the Nicotiana tabaccum roots.
Ms. Sbeih said that she hopes to keep trying to separate this natural compounds from those extracts. Then develop it into a pharmaceutical form that can be used in prevention and treatment. She also hopes to continue her doctoral studies and explore more about nature and wild plants as well as offer great achievements to humanity.