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Study indicates that camarinha may have anti-cancer properties

The camarinha extract, an endemic species of the Iberian Peninsula, may have anti-cancer properties, reveal the first results of a study led by a team from the Molecular Chemistry-Physical Research and Development (R&D) Unit, at the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Coimbra (FCTUC).

The study was carried out within the scope of the activities foreseen in the IDEAS4life project, with funding from the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), whose team includes the participation of researchers from the Escola Superior Agrária de Coimbra (ESAC), from the Faculty of Pharmacy of University of Porto, through REQUIMTE (Chemistry and Technology Network), and the Higher Institute of Agronomy (ISA) of the University of Lisbon (UL).

In the various experiments carried out on colon cancer cell lines (HT29), it was observed that “extracts from Corema album [scientific name of camarinha] manage to inhibit the proliferation of this type of cancer cells”, indicate Aida Moreira da Silva and Maria João Barroca, coordinators of the study.

Researchers from the Molecular Chemistry-Physics Unit at FCTUC and professors from the Escola Superior Agrária de Coimbra underline the fact that the extract obtained from the leaves of the plant (camarinheira) proved to be “more effective than the extract of the camarinha berries, which is very interesting, given that the leaves exist throughout the year, while the berries are seasonal”. In order to obtain the maximum information about the behavior of the extracts, several physical-chemical techniques were applied, among which vibrational spectroscopy: Raman and Infrared spectroscopy.

In view of these promising results, the team now intends to extend the in vitro tests, applying the extracts in cells of other types of cancer. In addition, “we are exploring the various parts of the camarinha and camarinheira. Even within the fruit we are exploring evidence and behaviors that can provide us with information for possible future drugs”, advance Aida Moreira Silva and Maria João Barroca.

«We intend to recover these ancestral berries, which were used as an antipyretic and vermicide», say the researchers, adding that they will also explore the gastronomic aspect, having already recovered several old recipes, so that “on the one hand, this heritage is not lost and, on the other hand, can contribute to the livelihood of some farmers on the Portuguese seafront”.

Despite being abundant on the Portuguese seafront, the camarinha is still to be explored and the scientific literature on the species is relatively small. This study is being developed as part of a larger project (IDEAS4life) that aims to enhance endogenous marine resources, obtained from marine plants, including halophyte plants. Recently, one of the scientific articles produced by the team was the cover of the scientific journal Journal of Raman Spectroscopy.

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