Oral squamous cell carcinoma is a deadly cancer that, even when treated successfully, often leaves patients permanently disfigured. Other than radical surgery, there are few known treatments. Researchers at Ohio State University, however, report a Phase I/II trial demonstrating that a gel made from black raspberries shows promise in preventing or slowing the malignant transformation of precancerous oral lesions.

“Black raspberries are full of anthocyanins, potent antioxidants that give the berries their rich, dark color, and our findings show these compounds have a role in silencing cancerous cells,” said Susan Mallery, D.D.S., Ph.D., professor in the Department of Oral Maxillofacial Surgery and Pathology at Ohio State University’s College of Dentistry. “This gel appears to be a valid means of delivering anthocyanins and other cancer-preventing compounds directly to precancerous cells, since it slowed or reduced lesion progression in about two-thirds of study participants.”

After six weeks, about 35 percent of the trial participants’ lesions showed an improvement in their microscopic diagnosis, while another 45 percent showed that their lesions had stabilized. About 20 percent showed an increase in their lesional microscopic diagnoses. Importantly, none of the participants experienced any side effects from the gel