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Anti-tumour properties in Sapota

Articles based on this release appeared in The Hindu and The Hindustan Times

Extracts of sapota induce cell death in cancerous cells, a recent study has found. The phytochemicals (plant based chemicals) in sapota extract activates cell-death pathways. Tumour growth was inhibited, and lifespan of tumour bearing animals increased, when sapota extract was used.

Sapodilla plum (Manilkara zapota) is a tropical evergreen fruit tree, widely used in traditional Indian medicine. A decoction of young fruits along with flowers is used to treat diarrhea, dysentery and lung diseases. A preliminary study has shown that phenolic antioxidants like methyl 4-O-galloylchlorogenate and 4-O-galloylchlorogenic acid derived from sapota fruits can induce cytotoxicity in colon cancer cells.

Researchers from Sathees Raghavan’s group at the Department of Biochemistry have demonstrated anti-cancer properties of sapota extracts in cancerous cell lines and in laboratory mice infected with cancer. The findings have appeared in the Scientific Reports, an international journal from the Nature Publishing Group.

Sapota extracts was found to induce cell death in cancerous cells and to slow tumour progression in mice. Tumor containing mice that were treated with sapota extracts lived four times longer than untreated mice.

The extract works by inducing programmed cell death or apoptosis in cancerous cells, which is a process of eliminating target cell and is outcome of disrupted balance between pro and anti-apoptotic proteins.

Assays showed the activation of apoptosis inducing proteins in tumour cells treated with extract, leading to cell death.


About the authors:

Sathees C Raghavan is an Associate Professor at the Department of Biochemistry, IISc. Tel: 080-22932674; Email:

Paper link in Scientific Reports:

Published on 24 August 2014.