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Sat 29 Dec 2018 01:37 AM

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How one Emirati is using saffron to treat cancer

UAE University graduate Ameera AlMansoori sees positive results by using saffron to treat liver cancer in experiments

How one Emirati is using saffron to treat cancer
Tests conducted on the liver and blood revealed highly effective results in treating cancer.

The treatment of liver cancer through the spice of saffron has been proved to be effective, according to researchers and students at the United Arab Emirates University.

Ameera AlMansoori, a 25-year-old Emirati who has graduated with a Masters in molecular biology and biotechnology, focused on the topic through her research project, state news agency WAM reported.

After cancer was induced in rats, they were administered an oral gavage of safranal substance, which is a bioactive molecule of saffron. Tests conducted on the liver and blood revealed highly effective results in treating cancer, it said.

"When you work with animals, it is more reliable than cells," she said. "It is the whole organism and not just cells. Dr Amr Amin, professor of cellular and molecular biology at the university, works with liver cancer and saffron, so I continued his project."

"This is something new, and working with animals is a huge step," she said. "Cancer is also spreading a lot now so we need to find a solution for it."

The rats were given an injection of a chemical – DEN – which causes cancer once a week for 15 weeks and cancer was found in the liver.

The drug was then given to the animals for three straight weeks and a number of promising results from the blood were discovered - enzymes that acted as markers for liver damage.

"Firstly, safranal reduced these markers," she noted. "Secondly, we did tests on the liver itself and tested some proteins. Safranal suppressed the cell cycle and induced cell death (apoptosis)."

"We still need to do more tests because I have just tested two pathways of many. Usually, cancer has 11 hallmarks, and also, we hopefully want this to be used on humans someday because the drug comes from a natural source, saffron, which has no side effects as compared to chemotherapy," she said.

"I think it could be used on humans soon. In 2016, liver cancer was the fourth cause of death related to cancer in the UAE."

AlMansoori said she is pursuing opportunities to publish her experiments before leaving the university at the end of the semester, with the hopes of continuing her work in cancer research at the Khalifa Hospital given the presence of laboratories in the field.

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