Great news! Researchers have discovered a compound in Indian long pepper, or Piper Longum as it is known, that may hold the key to fighting cancer. The reason we are excited is because this spice grows in Meghalaya.
Team Zizira is always looking to spot and unleash the agricultural potential of Northeast India. Hence when we stumbled upon a news article which said “Indian (long) pepper may be a cancer fighter” there was excitement. This is something big and we need to spread the word. Hence this post.
In a research done at the UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists, researchers have uncovered the chemical process behind the anti-cancer properties of Indian long pepper, whose medicinal usage in India can be traced back thousands of years.
Indian long pepper consists of a chemical compound called Piperlongumine, which has shown positive activity against cancer. With the help of x-ray crystallography (a technique used to determine the structure of proteins and biological molecules), researchers created a molecular structure to show how chemical from Indian long pepper is transmitted after ingestion.
We are hopeful that our structure will enable additional drug development efforts to improve the potency of PL (Piper Longum) for use in a wide range of cancer therapies,” said Dr. Kenneth Westover, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Radiation Oncology.
“This research is a spectacular demonstration of the power of x-ray crystallography.”
“This study illustrates the importance of examining and re-examining our theories. In this case, we learned something fundamentally new about a 3,000-year-old medical claim using modern science,” added Dr. Westover.Source
What Makes Piperlongumine Special?
Piperlongumine is a bioactive agent found in Piper longum or Indian long pepper. The usage of Indian long pepper goes back to Ayurveda and Unani systems. Several research papers are available to vouch for its medicinal properties.
According to a study by the Broad Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital, Piperlongumine can selectively kill cancer cells while sparing the normal cells. It blocks the mechanism that dispels oxidative stress and since cancer cells depend on anti-oxidative enzymes, Piperlongumine’s property of dissipating these oxygen species makes it a cancer cell remover.
We knew about some of the local traditional medicinal uses of piper longum, but such extensive research helps validate its efficacy and helps make the spice all the more valuable.
Piper longum grows well in the hilly region of Meghalaya. Could it be possible that the terrain and climatic conditions here adds to the medicinal value of this spice? We plan to ask the local agricultural scientists this question.
The Zizira explorers plan to share this valuable piece of information about Pepper Long with the farmers so they take extra pride in growing it. Our food lab plans to come up with new products using Piper Longum. Of course, you can buy dried pepper long from Zizira and use it as a spice.
Zizira explorers will keep you updated about developments Join us on this journey of exploration for potential opportunities for the farmers of Northeast India by signing up to our newsletter.