UAE | Health

UAE University researchers make breakthrough in cancer treatment

Finding can benefit patients suffering from breast, skin, and colon cancer

  • By Aftab Kazmi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 00:00 February 25, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Thinkstock image
  • The honey is obtained from nectar collected by honey bees from manuka trees (pictured above) found in New Zealand.
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Al Ain: A team of UAE University researchers has made a breakthrough in the treatment of cancer by discovering the exciting properties of manuka honey that effectively inhibit the growth of a variety of cancer cell types including breast, skin, and colon cancer.

The honey is obtained from nectar collected by honey bees from manuka trees found in New Zealand. Recognised for its anti-bacterial and wound healing properties for many years, the honey was, however, not investigated for its potential effects on cancer cells, said a UAE University official.

“The ground-breaking discovery provides strong scientific evidence,” he said, adding that the discovery had been made in a research conducted by a team of prominent researchers from the College of Medicine and Health Sciences at the UAE University (UAEU).

The research, he said, has also highlighted the honey’s potential property of reducing the toxic side effects associated with chemotherapy treatment in cancer patients. The study, recently published in an international scientific journal, was led by Dr Basel Al Ramadi, professor and chairman of the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology.

Professor Al Ramadi said the team used three different cancer cells in the research. “[It] demonstrated that the addition of exceedingly small amounts of manuka honey, as little as 1.0 per cent, can stop the growth of cancer cells,” he said.

The researchers, he said, then carried out an extensive series of experiments to uncover the molecular basis of manuka’s anti-cancer activity. “Our findings provided conclusive evidence that manuka acts directly by inducing apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in cancer cells,” said Professor Al Ramadi.

Apoptosis is a physiological process that all multicellular organisms use to balance their need for new cell generation with the elimination of old unwanted ones. This process is tightly regulated so that, in adult tissues, cell death exactly balances cell division.

“If this were not the case, excessive apoptosis causes tissue atrophy, whereas insufficient apoptosis would lead to uncontrolled cell proliferation, such as in cancer,” he explained. The manuka honey induces the death of cancer cells through the same physiological process used by the human body to maintain normal cell numbers, he said.

In the course of their investigation that began more than five years ago, he said, the researchers also successfully used an animal tumour to demonstrate the potential effect of manuka honey in experiment.

“This is a very exciting area of research and we are optimistic about what these new developments may mean in terms of potential new treatments for certain types of cancer,” said Professor Al Ramadi.

The group of investigators also includes Dr Hakam Al Taji, formerly a senior consultant of surgery at Tawam Hospital, Dr Maria Fernandez-Cabezudo from the Department of Biochemistry, and Dr Fawaz Torab from the Department of Surgery of the university.

Comments (7)

  1. Added 16:52 February 25, 2013

    While I was a young boy, in our village of Kerala, I knew three people in the entire village who were suffering from oral cancer; and two of them were brothers. Now, the different kinds of cancer in all parts of the body are found quite common everywhere. My cousin with throat cancer, never smoked and now he is fine. The 2nd killer of the US is cancer. It is a great news to read that the researchers in the UAE may have found a cure for cancer from a natural resource; hope and pray that millions of people around the world would be healed by this new breakthrough in cancer treatment.

    A. Sam Mathew, Ringgold, United States

  2. Added 16:14 February 25, 2013

    Available at Deira city center in the health stores

    John, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 12:45 February 25, 2013

    That is a great news where can we find this honey?

    liyaqat, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 12:21 February 25, 2013

    Alhamdollilah.....Allah tells us in the Quran that yellow colour substance coming from the belly of the bees that's honey has lot of healing capabilities .....

    Asif, Abu Dhabi, India

  5. Added 12:09 February 25, 2013

    This is Great news, I lost my mother five years back due to cancer. May Allah give reward for their efforts in saving life of numerous people.

    Mohammed Ibrahim, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 11:34 February 25, 2013

    Wow! This is Awesome news! My sister she has cancer too, she has done the chemotherapy but still every day she has to take the medicine, even she tried not to take the medicine for how many weeks but then again the cancer started to be active. :(

    Gina Gelvero, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 10:48 February 25, 2013

    This is an exctiting discovery well done!!! I lost my mother to cancer and I feel hopeful that we are close to getting a lasting cure for cancer.

    Farai, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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