The project, as reported by the UJA, started with the goal of assessing the potential of mango leaf extract as a chemo preventive agent against human breast cancer.
The study is researching which components of the leaf may have beneficial effects for the prevention of breast cancer after "studies had already been done on the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of mango pulp and its cortex when dealing with other types of cancer, like colon cancer."
In this case, according to José Juan Gaforio, professor of the Immunology Department and head of the research group at the UJA, they have focused on the mango leaf, from which they have obtained a number of extracts for their study, "which makes it a very innovative study."
The procedure is based on the use of extraction techniques at high pressures that make it possible to obtain natural extracts that are rich in bioactive compounds.
"Different extracts have been obtained and studied to find their effects on breast tumour cells and normal human epithelial cells. In the case of tumours, we distinguish between two types: highly metastatic and those with a low metastatic capacity, given the distinct expression of hormone receptors; an important aspect in breast cancer," explains José Juan Gaforio.
The results of the study conclude that mango leaves contain compounds with an antitumour activity. "This effect is not due to a single compound, but to the synergy of several of these compounds; besides, depending on which compounds are in greater quantity, its effect will be more potent on highly metastatic or less metastatic tumour cells."
The mango leaves used in the study come from the Institute of Mediterranean and Subtropical Horticulture "La Mayora"; an institution under the Higher Council of Scientific Research (CSIS), based in Malaga.
Mangoes are not a traditional crop in Spain, but thanks to the area's unique climatic conditions, they have been cultivated for some time in certain regions of the Andalusian coast and, as José Juan Gaforio points out, "this type of studies give an interesting added value to this crop."
Breast cancer is one of the main threats to women around the world. In Spain, about 25,000 new cases were diagnosed in 2016.
The results of this study can be found in the article entitled "Selective antitumoural action of pressurized mango leaf extracts against minimally and highly invasive breast cancer," published in the prestigious scientific journal "Food & Function".