Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Biology (B.S.B.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Vinoth Sittaramane


Cancer is one of the most well-known diseases around the world. It hurts everyone in some way, whether they have it themselves or they know someone that is diagnosed. But the problem is not just this brutal disease, the problem is its invasive treatments. The most common treatments for cancer have harmful and painful side-effects that occur in most cases. As a solution to invasive cancer treatments, this experiment is testing herbal medications Neem, Nilavembu, Ashwagandha and Tulsi as potential nontoxic cancer treatments. First, the maximum tolerable dosage for each herbal agent was found. This dosage was used for the toxicity trials as well as the anti-cancer trials. The mortality rate, heart rate and hatch rate of the zebrafish during five days of incubation in solution provided the toxicity data. To test the anti-cancer effects of these herbal agents, a zebrafish-human tumor xenograft model was used. The zebrafish embryos were treated with the maximum tolerable dosage of each solution for five days; when the embryos were three days old, they were injected with human prostate cancer cell and were allowed to incubate in the solution for another two days. After the treatment, the zebrafish were died with acridine orange and imaged under the confocal microscope. Neem, Nilavembu, Ashwagandha and Tulsi all had herbal induced cell death with little to no toxicity. Therefore, presenting a strong case that this study can move forward to be tested on a human model.

Thesis Summary

Discovery of substantial anti-cancer properties in Neem, Nilavembu, Tulsi and Ashwagandha by using a zebrafish-human zenograft. Each agent had herbal induced cancer cell death. Therefore, the evidence of this study presents a strong case that these herbal agents can be used as a non-toxic method of treating human cancers. The scientific community can move forward by testing these herbal agents on a human model in future experiments.