Bioactivity of the Murex homeopathic remedy and of extracts from an Australian Muricid mollusc against human cancer cells

Kirsten Benkendorff, Flinders University
Cassandra M. McIver, Flinders University
Catherine A. Abbott, Flinders University


Marine molluscs from the family Muricidae are the source of a homeopathic remedy Murex, which is used to treat a range of conditions, including cancer. The aim of this study was to evaluate the in vitro bioactivity of egg mass extracts of the Australian muricid Dicathais orbita, in comparison to the Murex remedy, against human carcinoma and lymphoma cells. Liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (LC-MS) was used to characterize the chemical composition of the extracts and homeopathic remedy, focusing on biologically active brominated indoles. The MTS (tetrazolium salt) colorimetric assay was used to determine effects on cell viability, while necrosis and apoptosis induction were investigated using flow cytometry (propidium iodide and Annexin-V staining, resp.). Cells were treated with varying concentrations (1–0.01 mg/mL) of crude and semi-purified extracts or preparations (dilute 1 M and concentrated 4 mg/mL) from the Murex remedy (4 h). The Murex remedy showed little biological activity against the majority of cell lines tested. In contrast, the D. orbita egg extracts significantly decreased cell viability in the majority of carcinoma cell lines. Flow cytometry revealed these extracts induce necrosis in HT29 colorectal cancer cells, whereas apoptosis was induced in Jurkat cells. These findings highlight the biomedical potential of Muricidae extracts in the development of a natural therapy for the treatment of neoplastic tumors and lymphomas.