A new study, published by the University of Kansas Medical Center’s Department of Cancer Biology, has revealed that a saffron compound (crocetin) inhibits the growth of pancreatic cancer cells in humans.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest types of cancer and the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. More than 43,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year and only 3% of people with pancreatic cancer live for more than 5 years after diagnosis.
“The mice who were given the crocetinic acid demonstrated a 75 percent reduction in their tumor growth, while the mice in the control group, which didn’t receive the crocetinic acid, actually saw a 250 percent increase in tumor growth,” Dhar said.
“Unless these stem cells are destroyed, the cancer will return,” said Shrikant Anant, Ph.D., a professor of molecular and integrative physiology at KU Medical Center and associate director of cancer prevention and control at The University of Kansas Cancer Center and a co-author on the study. “If we can determine that crocetinic acid is successful in inhibiting or destroying the stem cells, it will be a major step forward in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.”
Parthasarathy Rangarajan, Dharmalingam Subramaniam, Santanu Paul, Deep Kwatra, Kanagaraj Palaniyandi, Shamima Islam, Sitaram Harihar, Satish Ramalinagam, William Gutheil, Sandeep Putty, Rohan Pradhan, Subhash Padhye, Danny R. Welch, Shrikant Anant, Animesh Dhar. Crocetinic acid inhibits hedgehog signaling to inhibit pancreatic cancer stem cells. Oncotarget, 2015; 6 (29): 27661 DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.4871