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Medicinal plants are important elements of indigenous medical system that have persisted in developing countries. Many of the pharmacological principles currently used as anticancer agents were first isolated from plants. However, some important anticancer agents are still extracted from plants because they cannot be synthesized chemically on a commercial scale due to their complex structures that often contain several chiral centers. The aim of this study was to test different extracts from the leaves of Moringa or drumstick tree (Moringa oleifera) for activity against leukemia and hepatocarcinoma cells in vitro. The extracts could kill majority (70 - 86%) of the abnormal cells among primary cells harvested from 10 patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and 15 with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) as well as a culture of hepatocarcinoma cells (75% death), but most significantly by the hot water and ethanol extracts. In conclusion, M. oleifera may have potential for use as source of natural treatment for diseases such as cancer.
Key words: Moringa oleifera, anti-cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, hepatocarcinoma.