Dr Ahmad Sulaiman Al Harrasi Image Credit: Supplied

Muscat: Omani researchers at the University of Nizwa have succeeded in producing a medicinally important compound from Omani frankincense, luban, for breast cancer treatment.

Dr Ahmad Sulaiman Al Harrasi, holder of the University’s Chair of Oman’s Medicinal Plants and Marine Natural Products, said researchers have succeeded in isolating and enhancing the percentage of AKBA found in the resin of Omani frankincense.

AKBA (beta-boswellic acid, keto-beta-boswellic acid, and acetyl-keto-beta-boswellic acid) has been indicated in apoptosis, or death of cancer cells, in particular brain tumours and cells affected by leukaemia or colon cancer.

Dr Al Harrasi pointed out that the research was done under the chairmanship of Oman Medicinal Plants and Marine Natural Products at the Nizwa University and was funded jointly by the Oman Research Council and Nizwa University,

This discovery, the Nizwa University scientist says, will play a vital medicinal as well as economic role. “AKBA is very costly,” he said, explaining the economic benefits to the country.

Omani media have claimed that a “cure” for cancer had been found, which Al Harrasi denies.

“We would like to dispel certain misgivings regarding our discovery,” Dr Al Harrasi told Gulf News over the phone from Nizwa, about 160km northwest of Muscat.

“We have not discovered a breast cancer cure and it is not from oil as reported in some media and being circulated on WhatsApp as well as social media,” he added

The Assistant Dean for Scientific Studies and Research in Nizwa University also clarified that the compound had not been tested on humans. “We experimented on various cancer cell alliances for our research,” he clarified, adding that their experiments on several cancer cells showed positive results.

He also revealed that patent registration process was under process and 60 to 70 per cent of work was done. “The draft [for patent] has been accepted,” he said.