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Journal of Cancer Prevention

Original Article

J Cancer Prev 2021; 26(4): 266-276

Published online December 30, 2021

© Korean Society of Cancer Prevention

Comparative Pre-clinical Efficacy of Chinese and Indian Cultivars of Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia) against Pancreatic Cancer

Kushal Kandhari1 , Sandeep Paudel1 , Komal Raina1,2 , Chapla Agarwal1 , Rama Kant1 , Michael F. Wempe1,3 , Cindy O’Bryant1,3, Rajesh Agarwal1,3

1Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Colorado - Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO, 2Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD, 3University of Colorado Cancer Center, University of Colorado - Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO, USA

Correspondence to :
Rajesh Agarwal, E-mail:,

Received: December 9, 2021; Revised: December 21, 2021; Accepted: December 21, 2021

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License, which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Given the high rates of incidence and mortality associated with pancreatic cancer (PanC), there is a need to develop alternative strategies to target PanC. Recent studies have demonstrated that fruits of bitter melon (Momordica charantia) exhibit strong anticancer efficacy against PanC. However, the comparative effects of different bitter melon varieties have not been investigated. This has important implications, given that several bitter melon cultivars are geographically available but their differential effects are not known; and that on a global level, individuals could consume different bitter melon varieties sourced from different cultivars for anti- PanC benefits. Considering these shortcomings, in the present study, comparative pre-clinical anti-PanC studies have been conducted using lyophilized-juice and aqueous-methanolic extracts of the two most widely consumed but geographically diverse bitter melon varieties (Chinese [bitter melon juice; BMJ] and Indian [bitter melon extract; BME] variants). We observed that both BMJ and BME possess comparable efficacy against PanC growth and progression; specifically, these preparations have the potential to (a) inhibit PanC cell proliferation and induce cell death; (b) suppress PanC tumor growth, proliferation, and induce apoptosis; (c) restrict capillary tube formation by human umbilical vein endothelial cells, and decrease angiogenesis in PanC tumor xenografts. Thus, given the comparable pre-clinical anti-PanC efficacy of bitter melon cultivars, the geographical non-availability of a certain cultivar should not be a limiting factor in selecting a variant for moving forward for future clinical use/clinical trials either as a preventive or a therapeutic alternative for targeting PanC.

Keywords: Pancreatic neoplasms, Bitter melon, Apoptosis, Angiogenesis, Natural/dietary agents


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