Plant Extract For Treatment of Breast Cancer

Plant Extract For Treatment of Breast Cancer

Technology Description

The standard breast cancer therapies drastically compromise the homeostasis of normal cells, thus limiting their clinical effectiveness, and also have serious side effects. Cancer cells are also becoming increasingly resistant to conventional therapy and multiple drug therapies are now being adopted to deal with this problem. There is thus a renewed interest in traditional plant medicines for use in treating chronic weakening and life threatening conditions and diseases.

Researchers at Stellenbosch University have developed a plant extract from an indigenous plant which has been shown to decrease tumour growth but with only limited cytotoxicity to normal breast epithelial cells in vitro. The extract is  effective at inducing apoptosis, but it remains non-toxic in vivo, and results in similar inhibition of tumour growth compared with a Dox treatment group (conventional chemotherapy) and prevented  weight-loss in mice over the course of treatment. This extract may prove a novel phyto-therapy as an adjunct remedy with other commercial drugs to assist in reducing proliferation of tumours.

The herbal remedy has potential to reduce proliferation of tumours but without adverse toxicity to normal cells associated with conventional cancer treatments. Plant material were collected, washed, dried and crushed. The extract was then obtained by solvent extraction.  Cytotoxicity tests were performed on breast cancer cell lines and healthy cell lines in vitro.  When tumour bearing mice were treated with the extract, tumour cells were not only suppressed in their growth but the treated mice also gained weight during the course of the treatment.

Target Industries

  • Phytochemical industry
  • Health care industry

Unique Features/Benefits

Most current chemotherapeutic agents are extremely toxic to normal cells and induce a wide variety of side-effects which include: nausea, vomiting, cardiotoxicity, ototoxicity, loss in appetite, tiredness, weakness, muscle atrophy, and, many more.  This extract has shown to induce cell death in breast cancer cells in mice, while it was not toxic to normal cells.

Innovation Status

This technology is patented.  

Principal Researchers

Prof Nokwanda P. Makunga, Department of Botany  and Zoology, Stellenbosch University.

Prof Anna-Mart Engelbrecht, Department of Physiological Sciences, Stellenbosch University.


We are looking for development and commercialisation partners. 

Fund Requirements

We are looking for development funding for clinical studies on large animals.  

Available for licensing



Nolene Singh


Registered IP