Researchers at the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) in Al Ain have made a groundbreaking discovery. They found out that tiny amounts of Manuka honey could prevent the growth of several types of cancer cells, including melanoma, breast adenocarcinoma and colorectal cancer.
The team has already filed a patent application in the US on their work. Their studies reflect on the increasing worldwide focus on complementary and alternative approaches to tackling cancer aside from traditional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.
The beneficial effects of Manuka honey as an anti-cancer agent were initially identified in 2013 by a research group headed by medical doctor Basel Al Ramadi, then chair of the department of medical microbiology and immunology at UAEU’s College of Medicine and Health Sciences (CMHS).
Further investigation by the team has discovered a particular molecular aspect of breast cancer that this type of honey can combat, paving the way for the development of new understanding about, precisely, how it can be used to fight one of the world’s most serious diseases, and enhancing the reputation for pioneering medical research capable of global impact, according to the UAEU.
The experiments conclusively proved even a small dose of the honey induces apoptosis or programmed cell death in cancer cell. Using the same physiological process that the human body deploys to maintain cellular homeostasis, a balance between the need for new cells to be generated and unwanted ones to be discarded that ensures the body remains healthy.
“In our latest publication, we have identified—for the first time—a potential molecular target within human breast cancer cells that is inhibited by Manuka honey,” medical doctor Al Ramadi, professor of cancer immunology at UAEU, told Khaleej Times.
“The identified molecular target acts as a master switch and regulates multiple functions of breast cancer cells, including their growth, migration and metastatic capacity. Manuka honey appears to turn off this master switch, thereby inhibiting the ability of cancer cells to survive. These new findings were recently published in the journal Frontiers in Oncology,” Al Ramadi added.
The new findings are the result of a collaborative effort also involving the laboratories of medical doctors Maria Fernandez-Cabezudo (department of biochemistry) and Samir Attoub (department of pharmacology) at the CMHS.
“Our findings will help us to further dissect the unique properties of Manuka honey and their effect on cancer growth and metastasis. Our greatest source of pride is the fact that all of these new findings have come about as a result of experiments supported by and accomplished at UAEU. I hope that our new findings will provide new avenues to pursue in this area of research,” Al Ramadi said.