Research from Thammasat University Shows Ocimum Sanctum Leaf Extract May be Helpful in Preventing Head and Neck Cancer

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Dentistry students of Thammasat University presented research work on Ocimum sanctum leaf extract that can prevent head and neck cancer and won the DAT-Oral Science Research Award from the Dental Association of Thailand.

Mr.Kanatouch Siritassanakul, a fifth-year student of the Faculty of Dentistry, Thammasat University, is the representative of Thammasat University presenting research work . He says, “Cytotoxic effects of Ocimum sanctum leaf extract on oxidative stress, cell cycle and apoptotic death in head and neck cancer cell lines”. This research work has won a gold medal from the DAT-Oral Science Research Award competition in 109th academic convention of the Dental Association of Thailand.

Mr.Kanatouch Siritassanakul said that he saw the competition’s announcement in the faculty and a research adviser encouraged him to register for the competition. He was also interested in the competition because he thought it is a good opportunity to present research work and try new things. After he applied for the competition, the faculty chose a representative from all candidates to compete in the competition as the university can only send one representative.

“Research work shown in the competition is Cytotoxic effects of Ocimum sanctum leaf extract on oxidative stress, cell cycle and apoptotic death in head and neck cancer cell lines. It is the study of the effects of Ocimum sanctum leaf extract whether it can prevent head and neck cancer cells or not. If it can kill cancer cells, how can Ocimum sanctum leaf extract kill cancer cells? This research work is a work of me and other 5 friends, including Mr.Natthapat Thareurak, Ms.Muthita Bootpawanitch, Mr.Witthawat Wiangsukpaiboon, Mr.Sakkarin Lampoey, and Ms.Chanokporn Ratprasartporn. Asst.Prof.Dr.Kusumawadee Utitpan is our research advisor, ” said Mr.Kanatouch.

Head and neck cancer is one of the cancers that have a high death risk. Moreover, treatments for cancer in the present have many side effects. Therefore, we are interested in researching Thai herbal plants that can be used in the study for head and neck cancer treatment. Ocimum sanctum leaf is our best choice for this study. We only spent 1 month to study. In the beginning, we started by modifying tumor cells and tested the toxicity of the extract. The finding demonstrated the amount of the toxicity of the extract that can kill cancer cells. After we had the toxicity test, we continued to proceed to another 6 tests.

“During one month of research, I have to go to the laboratory every day starting from the morning until night. When I look back, it was a fun experience. I get to do new things and spend time with my friends. I cannot believe that we can finish the research before the deadline as we have limited time. There are many tests we have to do and it is our obstacle that we are aware of. With good management and work sharing, we can do it in time and it helps us a lot,” said Mr.Kanatouch.

Mr.Kanatouch also says that”knowledge from the research work has many types, including new knowledge, supplementary knowledge, and knowledge that opposes the old idea. The outcome of our research work is supplementary knowledge. Although our research work is done today or tomorrow, it cannot be used in cancer treatment. However, this knowledge supplements the development of head and neck cancer treatment. Our research found that Ocimum sanctum leaf has some substances that can kill head and neck cancer cells. Therefore, the next research will find out what is that substance and do an experiment in animals and humans.”

“I have used a lot of knowledge from different courses. “Research methodology” course helps me the most as it is the foundation of research, including preparing script, summarizing, and answering the question. These require a research methodology. Another important thing that helps me with presentation skills is active learning such as PBL (Problem-Based Learning). This type of learning helps me to talk rationally. I would like to thank the Faculty of Dentistry and Thammasat University that support bachelor’s degree students to research and join a national competition. I am very grateful that I made Thammasat a good reputation.” said Mr.Kanatouch.

All in all, the DAT-Oral Science Research Award competition is a competition for research about dental science that was held by the Dental Association of Thailand. Candidates have to present their work in English by doing a presentation in front of the topic poster.