Crocetin, a carotenoid isolated from the spice saffron, has been found to be effective in treating certain types of cancer treatable with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA).
ATRA, however, is a potent teratogen, and the possibility that crocetin may also be a teratogen becomes an important medical issue.
The teratogenic potential of crocetin and ATRA were evaluated in frog (Xenopus) embryos.
The data show that crocetin is a teratogen, but far less potent than ATRA.
This suggests that crocetin may be a safer alternative to treat ATRA-sensitive cancers in women of childbearing age.