The answer to treating painful arthritis could lie in an age old herbal remedy - frankincense, according to Cardiff University scientists.
Cardiff scientists have been examining the potential benefits of frankincense to help relieve and alleviate the symptoms of the condition.
"The search for new ways of relieving the symptoms of inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis is a long and difficult one," according to Dr Emma Blain, who leads the research with her co-investigators Professor Vic Duance from Cardiff University's School of Biosciences and Dr Ahmed Ali of the Compton Group.
"The South West of England and Wales has a long standing connection with the Somali community who have used extracts of frankincense as a traditional herbal remedy for arthritic conditions.
"What our research has focused on is whether and how these extracts can help relieve the inflammation that causes the pain," she added.
The Cardiff scientists believe they have been able to demonstrate that treatment with an extract of Boswellia frereana - a rare frankincense species - inhibits the production of key inflammatory molecules which helps prevent the breakdown of the cartilage tissue which causes the condition.
Dr Ali adds: "The search for new drugs to alleviate the symptoms of conditions like inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis is a priority area for scientists. What our research has managed to achieve is to use innovative chemical extraction techniques to determine the active ingredient in frankincense.
"Having done this we are now able to further characterise the chemical entity and compare its success against other anti-inflammatory drugs used for treating the condition."
The research comes as a result of a seedcorn project, funded by the Severnside Alliance for Translational Research (SARTRE), through the MRC Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme devolved portfolio.
SARTRE is a joint project between Cardiff University and the University of Bristol to combine and accelerate translational research.
Further information or to interview Dr Blain please contact:
Dr Corinne Squire
SARTRE - Severnside Alliance for Translational Research
Tel: 029 20 744190
Mobile: 07854 103938
Further information on SARTRE - Severnside Alliance for Translational Research is available at: www.sartre.ac.uk/
Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain's leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK's most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans.
Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University's breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. www.cardiff.ac.uk