Research Highlights

doi:10.1038/nindia.2015.154 Published online 23 November 2015

Homeopathic drugs modify gene expression in cancer cells

Researchers have discovered that very highly diluted homeopathic drugs can modify gene expression in cervical cancer cells1.

To probe the effects of homeopathic drugs on gene expressions, the researchers prepared two homeopathic drugs by highly diluting alcohol-based root extracts of two medicinal plants: Hydrastis canadensis and Marsdenia condurango. They then treated cultured cervical cancer cells with the drugs and a placebo drug for two days in a carbon dioxide incubator.

The homeopathic drugs activated a host of genes, triggering apoptosis — a process that kills cancer cells in a controlled way. The drugs induced cell death by altering DNA methylation, an epigenetic process that is known to modify gene expression without changing DNA sequences.

Of all the activated cancer-related genes, a marker gene known as SMAD4 was found to be activated by the homeopathic drugs. This gene triggers a cascade of cellular events that eventually suppress tumour growth.

“Since the homeopathic drugs are very highly diluted, they are non-toxic and could be used as nanomedicines for personalized treatment that depends on the individual genome,” says lead researcher Anisur Rahman Khuda-Bukhsh.


References

1. Saha, S. K. et al. Ultra-highly diluted plant extracts of Hydrastis canadensis and Marsdenia condurango induce epigenetic modifications and alter gene expression profiles in HeLa cells in vitro.J. Integr. Med13, 400–411 (2015)