In a study, the conclusions of which were published in March 2019, researchers demonstrate the effectiveness of a combined moringa + radiotherapy treatment in the fight against pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest and most recurrent.
The antioxidant and anticancer properties of moringa have been of interest to the scientific and medical community for a few years. Previous work, notably in 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2014, has already established the cytotoxicity (cell-altering power) of moringa on cancerous tumors and its inhibitory effect on their proliferation. The recent study further specifies the mechanisms of this action and thus lays the foundations for a potential targeted anticancer treatment where moringa would boost the impact of radiotherapy. An innovative approach to overcome pancreatic cancer cell radioresistance.
The limits of radiotherapy
Radiation therapy is one of the main treatments for cancer today. It is reputed to be effective but nevertheless harmful because, although they act in a targeted way on the area of the tumor, the ionizing radiations also destroy the healthy tissues around. They break down the cell nucleus, causing their delayed death. Admittedly, unlike the tumor, healthy cells can regenerate between radiotherapy sessions, but if the patient’s exposure to radiation is too intensive, irreversible sequelae can occur over time.
In all cases, it is a demanding treatment due to its multiple side effects (apathy, fatigue, infertility, nausea, loss of appetite, hair loss, skin lesions …).
Moreover, to optimize the anti-cancer care protocol, radiotherapy can be combined with surgery (another locoregional method) or with systemic (i.e. having an impact on the whole body) processes such as chemotherapy, which can be very invasive.
The problem is pancreatic cancer tumors are not only extremely aggressive, but also chemo and radio resistant, calling for new treatments to improve radiotherapy outcome.
The determining contribution of moringa
The goal of the study that concerns us was precisely to test the performance of moringa as an active ingredient capable of minimizing radioresistance, reducing the toxicity of the treatment and enhancing its effectiveness. It involved in vitro tests as well as in vivo clinical trials carried out on mice. The in vitro tests showed that moringa significantly decreases the survival rate of pancreatic cancer cells exposed to radiation and slows down their metastatic activity (and therefore their proliferation).
As for the in vivo part, mice were divided into four groups: an untreated group, and three groups treated with graded dosages of moringa. It was found that the tumors of the mice having received the highest dosage of moringa have grown half as large as those of the untreated group during the study.
In conclusion to this work, the researchers are considering for the first time the combination of moringa + radiotherapy as a new strategy to treat pancreatic cancer more effectively.