Veterinary parasitologists are conducting further research on the treatment of cancer patients by using a capsule containing a particular fatty acid with well documented anti-cancer properties extracted from bitter gourd (karawila) seeds.

The research is being conducted at the General Hospital in Kandy. In the lab model, the treatment had proven 100% effective in its ability to destroy different types of cancer cells in animals and animal cells.

The researchers had then obtained ethical clearance from the relevant medical faculty to conduct clinical trials on humans for one year.

There is no output from the latter yet. According to the researchers, even though the one year has since lapsed, much research is yet to be done and therefore the research must be continued further.

The process has proved difficult due to various factors one being that the researchers cannot have a control group due to ethical reasons.

Presently, there are two groups in the research. One group does not get the Karawila capsule and gets only the general treatment provided by the Hospital while the other group is administered the general treatment given by the Hospital plus the Karawila capsule three times a day.

A kilogram of agrochemical free bitter gourd seed is reported to cost Rs 8000. According to news reports, eight seeds are needed to produce one capsule.

The other reason is that the patients aren’t regular in the sense that a patient from Anuradhapura may come to Kandy and then discontinue due to the travel distance involved and go to another hospital instead.

Professor in Veterinary Parasitology at the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science of the University of Peradeniya, Prof. R.P.V. Jayantha Rajapakse said that the particular fatty acid was alpha-eleostearic acid.

It has also been reported that bitter gourd seeds are capable of lowering sugar levels and therefore useful in the medical treatment of diabetes.