How ‘golden spice’ saffron helps keep liver cancer at bay

  • IANS, Abu Dhabi
  • Updated: Jan 02, 2016 17:19 IST
Researchers at United Arab Emirates (UAE) University have found that a biomolecule found in saffron is good for your liver. (Shutterstock)

One has known that saffron is used as a taste enhancer, famous for its flavour. Now, new research shows that the humble saffron can protect people who are at the risk of developing liver cancer. Researchers have found that a biomolecule found in the golden spice is good for your liver. A saffron-based ‘crocin’ can protect people against a deadly form of liver cancer, they have added.

New study led by professor Amr Amin from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) University has unravelled mechanisms by which saffron-based ‘crocin’ protects against hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

“The aims of this study were to examine the chemopreventive action of saffron’s main biomolecule -- crocin -- against chemically-induced liver cancer in rats and to explore the mechanisms by which crocin employs its anti-tumour effects,” the authors noted.

The team investigated the anti-cancer effect of crocin on an experimental carcinogenesis model of liver cancer by studying the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of crocin in vivo. To further support the results, in vitro analysis was also carried out.

“We assessed the effects of crocin on HepG2 cells viability by treating them with various concentrations of crocin. In addition, effects of crocin on cell cycle distribution of HepG2 cells were investigated,” the team elaborated.

The findings revealed the anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic properties of crocin when administrated in induced-HCC model. Crocin exhibited anti-inflammatory properties where NF-kB, among other inflammatory markers, was inhibited.

Read: Processed meat can cause cancer, says WHO

A saffron-based ‘crocin’ can protect people against a deadly form of liver cancer, researchers at UAE University have said. (Shutterstock)

Using murine model, human liver cancer cells, gene expression profiling and computer-assisted modeling analyses, Amin’s study identified ‘NF-kB’ as a regulatory hub and a candidate therapeutic drug target for liver cancer.

Read: Crunchy-crispy-cancer: Roast potatoes, dark toasts can harm you

“Taken together, our findings introduce crocin as a candidate chemopreventive agent against HCC,” the authors concluded. The study, funded by Al-Jalila Foundation and Terry Fox Foundation, was published in the journal Recent Patents on Anticancer Drug Discovery.

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