Research Highlight

Death trap for cancer cells

Biplab Das

doi:10.1038/nindia.2008.308 Published online 23 October 2008

Researchers have stumbled upon a group of plant-derived chemicals that show promise in killing cancer cells. The complex organic compounds were found to stifle the growth of tumour cells in mice. The chemicals also checked unbridled growth of human cancer cell lines (skin and lung cancer cells)1.

In recent years, various cancers have grown drug-resistant. Faced with such challenge, researchers have been forced to search for new anti-cancer agents. To make this happen, the researchers chose Diospyros montana Roxb. tree. During their research, they looked at the tree for possible anti-cancer agents.

The researchers isolated a series of aminonapthoquinone derivatives of diospyrin. They found that an aminoacetate derivative increased the life span in mice by 93 per cent. The compound also exhibited considerable enhancement in anti-proliferative activity when evaluated against human cancer cell lines (skin and lung cancer) in comparison to the natural precursor, diospyrin.

Moreover, diospyrin and all its derivatives were found to show significantly greater toxicity against tumor cells as compared to normal human lymphocytes.

The authors of this work are from: Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, West Bengal; India Department of Chemistry, Jadavpur University, Raja S.C. Mullick Road, Jadavpur, Kolkata, West Bengal; India Department of Chemistry, University College of Science, Kolkata, India.


  1. Das Sarma, M. et al. Synthesis of novel aminoquinonoid analogues of diospyrin and evaluation of their inhibitory activity against murine and human cancer cells. Eur. J. Med. Chem. 43, 1878-1888 (2008)  | Article |