Biochemist to discuss disease-fighting natural compounds on research talk show

Siyaram Pandey was skeptical when he was first approached by a local oncologist who was curious about cancer patients who had been drinking dandelion tea and seemed to be getting better.

“To be honest I was very pessimistic,” said Dr. Pandey, a professor in Chemistry and Biochemistry who researches the effects that a variety of natural compounds have on the process of cell death. “She said it could be coincidental but it couldn’t hurt to see if there is anything.”

Pandey, who will appear today on CJAM to discuss his research, conducted a literature review and could only find one journal article suggesting dandelions may have cancer-killing properties. But he and his team of graduate students collected a bunch of the weeds anyway, ground them up with a mixture of water in a food processor and developed a simple formula they could experiment with.

They tested the formula on several lines of commercially available leukemia cells and much to their surprise, found that the formula caused those cells to kill themselves, a process called apoptosis.

“It was startling, but it was not that startling until we saw that it was non-toxic to the normal cells,” he said.

Along with his team, Pandey went on to conduct ex-vivo tests on human blood samples and on lab mice and discovered the same effect and along with Caroline Hamm, the oncologist who first approached him with the idea, have since applied to Health Canada for approval to take the formula on to the next step of human clinical trials. If all goes well, he expects those trials could begin as early as within six months.

Pandey will appear today on Research Matters, a weekly talk show on CJAM 99.1 FM that focuses on the work of University of Windsor researchers and airs every Thursday at 4:30 p.m.