Researchers from the University of Leicester have, for the first time, demonstrated the potential of treating ovarian cancer using the Christmas gift frankincense.
Frankincense, along with gold and myrrh, is one of the most famous Christmas presents in history, and is a fragrant plant resin extracted from the Boswellia sacra tree found across Africa and Arabia. Using the compound AKBA (acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid) derived from the resin, the research, funded by the Omani government, has successfully shown its potential effectiveness in targeting ovarian cancer, the fifth most common cancer in females in the UK.
More specifically, they have been able to demonstrate the ability of AKBA to combat cancer cells in late-stage ovarian cancer which is extremely pertinent in Oman where ovarian cancer is often diagnosed late due to a lack of visible symptoms and education on what to look for, making treatment difficult.
Lead researcher Kamla Al-Salmani, PhD student from the University's Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine explained: "After a year of studying the AKBA compound with ovarian cancer cell lines in vitro, we have been able to show it is effective at killing the cancer cells. Frankincense is taken by many people with no known side effects. This finding has enormous potential to be taken to a clinical trial in the future and developed into an additional treatment for ovarian cancer."