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article imageSaffron could inhibit the pancreatic cancer cell growth

By Tim Sandle     Nov 4, 2015 in Science
Saffron, or rather an extract termed crocetinic acid, may have anti-cancer properties, according to laboratory studies using pancreatic cancer cells.
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the developed world and the type with the lowest survival rate, so any steps that might lead to a way to stopping the disease sparks scientific and medical interest. Destruction of cancer cells is seen as the best way to combat the disease.
Cell biologists employed at the University of Kansas Medical Center's Department of Cancer Biology have been exploring the properties of crocetinic acid, a component of saffron. Saffron has been prized for centuries for its flavour, as a spice derived from the flower of the Crocus.
For the study, scientists took crocetinic acid, a purified compound from the substance crocetin (a component of saffron), and used this to demonstrate inhibition of growth in human pancreatic cancer cells. Initially the results applied to cells grown within a Petri dish. The results were later replicate on tumors located under the skin of mice. The results were reproducible both a dose and time dependent manner.
With time, the effects were achieved — tumor reduction in mice — within 21 days following the initial dose of the acid. At the end of the process, tumors had reduced by 75 percent in size.
While the results are of interest, it is important to note the examination of the compound is at an early stage and the tests conducted are not necessarily applicable to what happens with pancreatic cancer inside the human body. Several years of clinical trials will be required before the substance, should it prove successful, becomes a commercially available medicine.
The research is published in the journal Oncotarget. The paper is called “Crocetinic acid inhibits hedgehog signaling to inhibit pancreatic cancer stem cells.”
In related news, a new treatment for pancreatic cancer has been approved in the U.S. This is a medication called Onivyde. The active ingredient has been formulated and produced by a research institute.
More about saffron, Cancer, Pancreatic cancer, crocetinic acid
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