Saffron, world's costliest spice, famous for dyeing and flavouring has anti-cancer properties, a young researcher from Kashmir claimed while presenting a paper at an international conference on stem cell transplantation at Barkatullah University in Bhopal on Monday.
The four-day conference will conclude on Tuesday.
Basharat Ali, a PhD scholar at the Jawaharlal Nehru Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, has been researching on the anti-cancer properties of saffron, a spice found only in Kashmir.
Ali is working under Dr N Ganesh, senior scientist at the institute and prof Susan Mohan.
Ali presented a paper on 'saffron as anti-cancer herb and its pharmacological importance', co-authored with Dr N Ganesh and Prof Susan Manohar.
Talking about the research, Dr Ganesh said pharmacological studies have shown that saffron extract has been found to alleviate side effects of cancer treatment drugs, such as cisplatin.
"Saffron extract significantly prolongs, almost three fold, the lifespan of Cisplatin-treated mice and partially prevented the decrease in body weight, hemoglobin levels and leukocyte counts", he said.
The trio is currently working on skin cancer cells of mice in the laboratory, which are being treated with saffron extracts. "We found around 50 per cent of the cancer cells dying, but, we need to vary the dosages to achieve more percentage. We will study saffron extracts on nearly 25 types of cancer cells"
Basharat Ali in the abstract of his research paper says, "Giving saffron to lab animals significantly slowed down the growth of two different types of cancer cells. The increased level of carotenes and Vitamin A may have accounted for this anti-cancer effect. The present work will be able to validate saffron as an anti-tumor, anti-oxidant and tissue protector”.