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The anti-cancer activity of Croton fishlockii used as a medicinal plant in traditional herbal medicines.

   Faculty of Health, Science, Social Care and Education

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  Dr H Morgan  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Within the sphere of cancer chemotherapy, many commercialised drugs have been obtained by the synthesis of new compounds, from natural sources or by structural modification of natural products. The objective of cancer chemotherapy is to kill cancer cells with as little damage as possible to normal cells. An alternative source of anticancer drugs are natural products, which frequently seem to be more effective and/or less toxic. Screening of medicinal plants on the basis of their folklore or traditional use in the treatment of tumors has revealed some remarkable discoveries in the past. A bioassay guided fraction of many Croton species presented activity against different kinds of tumor cell lines with the cytotoxicity of the isolated compounds is the most studied. Hence, ethno-botanical and ethno-pharmacological research is crucial in the discovery and development of drugs from natural sources. Real information about the identification of plant species, part of plant used, preparation and dosage form of a folklore remedy, traditional use, and preservation of medicinal plants facilitates the search for new drugs, and the time needed for drug development programs.

Diterpenoids are characteristic components of the Croton species. Bioactivity of C. barorum (an African Croton) exhibited 100% cell inhibition at 10 µg/mL against the murine lymphocytic leukaemia P388 cell line with observed activity was due to crotobarin, a 3,4-seco-atisane diterpenoid. The leaf extract of Croton haumanianus J. Léonard, which has kauranes and clerodanes diterpenoids, showed selective activity against three of the NCI 60 cancer cell lines, the colon (HCT-116), the melanoma (M14) and the renal (786-0) cancer cell lines at a concentration of 10-5 M. Studies showed that the dichloromethane extract of leaves of C. zambesicus showed in vitro cytotoxicity against human cervix carcinoma cells. Moreover, the red latex of C. lechleri has been shown to have anti-tumor activity. C. lechleri sap possess antimutagenic properties and may inhibit the proliferation of human leukemic cells. Labdanes from C. oblongifolius have showed non-specific, moderate cytotoxicity against human breast ductal carcinoma (BT474), human undifferentiated lung carcinoma (CHAGO), human liver hepatoblastoma (HEP-G2), gastric carcinoma (KATO3) and colon adenocarcinoma (SW620) tumor cell lines. t-DCTN and its synthetic derivative dimethylamide-crotonin (DCR) inhibit HL60 cells growth in vitro partly by apoptosis induction and cell differentiation, but do not cause serious damage to immune cells, also t-DCTN showed strong antiulcerogenic activity. Taspine, an alkaloid that is active against KB and V-79 cells, a component that could be linkedfor the purported anticancer activity of C. lechleri red sap to thepositive results in antitumor tests using breast carcinoma and hepatoma. Anethole, a phenyl-propanoid constituent of volatile oil of C. zehntneri, has been shown to have anti-carcinogenic effect.

The aim of the present investigation is to evaluate the anticancer activity of (at least) one of Croton species, Croton fishlockii, based on folklore use in the treatment of different types of tumors and inflammatory conditions, and to explore and identify the potent chemical constituents from these plants responsible for antiproliferative activity against human cancer cells. The project will provide training in a wide range of chemical extraction and analysis, cell, molecular biology and analytical techniques such as Immunoblotting, Immunofluorescence, confocal microscopy, PCR, scratch assay and stable isotopic tracer methodology.

Recent extensive research work by Dr Huda Morgan showed very promising results of using Phoenix dactylifera; Ajwa dates variety as an alternative therapy to manage neoplastic diseases being effective and a low-cost prevention protocol, especially with the rise of cancer cases due to the impact of Covid-19 on the economy. Ajwa date variety shows to contain phytochemicals such as phenols and flavonoids that exhibited simple, yet effective biological anti-neoplastic activities. Cell culture on colon adenocarcinoma cells showed very promising results with an almost complete inhibition on migration in this cancerous cell line, which has facilitated further research on these compounds in the context of their use as a natural therapeutic in cancer patients by incorporating it into modern medicine due to the presence of series of anti-cancer phytochemicals which can aid in preventing the diseases. NMR confirmed the presence of Rutin and Quercetin from the use of 1D 1H, 2D 1H COSY and 2D 1H TOCSY experiments and both 1H and DEPTQ NMR spectroscopy of the DCM extracts also confirmed the presence of phenolic compounds as well as fatty acids and triterpenes.

Applicants should have a first or upper second class honours degree in a relevant area to the project. A Master’s degree or equivalent qualification or other evidence of research skills and experience is preferred but not essential.

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