According to new research from Leicester University, there may be a new treatment for ovarian cancer. The research team says that AKBA (acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid), which is a compound found in frankincense resin, has the potential to kill ovarian cancer cells.

Frankincense is most well known for being one of the gifts the three Wise Men gave to the baby Jesus in the bible. It is the resin from the Boswellia sacra tree, which is found in Africa and Arabia.

The research team used the compound AKBA and found that it had potential for treating ovarian cancer. More specifically, they found that it may be effective at killing late-stage ovarian cancer cells.

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,” explained lead researcher Kamla Al-Salmani, PhD student from the University’s Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine. “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,” Al-Salmani added.

Frankincense is well known for it’s potent anti-inflammatory properties, and has been used as a treatment for asthma, skin conditions, gastroenteritis, and many other conditions.

Previous studies have linked AKBA to potential colon, breast, and prostate cancer treatment, but this is the first study to link frankincense to ovarian cancer.

Dr Mark Evans, Kamla’s PhD Supervisor and Lecturer in the University’s Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine added: “We have shown that this frankincense compound is effective at killing ovarian cancer cells at realistic concentrations. What has been most surprising is that the cells we have tested which are resistant to chemotherapy have shown to be more sensitive to this compound, suggesting frankincense may indeed be able to help overcome drug resistance, and lead to an improved survival rate for patients with late-stage ovarian cancer.”

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