Mounting Evidence Shows Red Wine Antioxidant Kills Cancer (3/25/08)
Rochester researchers showed for the first time that a natural antioxidant found in grape skins and red wine can help destroy pancreatic cancer cells by reaching to the cell's core energy source, or mitochondria, and crippling its function.
The new study also showed that when the pancreatic cancer cells were doubly assaulted -- pre-treated with the antioxidant, resveratrol, and irradiated -- the combination induced a type of cell death called apoptosis, an important goal of cancer therapy.
The fact that resveratrol has effects on the mitochondria of cancer cells is particularly interesting, since mitochondria are known to play an important role in apoptosis. One of the main ways cancer therapies such as radiation and chemotherapy kill cancer cells is by inducing apoptosis. However, advanced cancers develop ways of evading apoptosis. (See here.) If resveratrol independently interferes with the function of the mitochondria in cancer cells, that would be helpful.
In fact, the research indicated several relevant effects of resveratrol:
Laboratory experiments showed that resveratrol:
• Reduced the function of proteins in the pancreatic cancer cell membranes that are responsible for pumping chemotherapy out of the cell, making the cells chemo-sensitive.
• Triggered the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are substances circulating in the human body that have been implicated in a number of diseases: when ROS is increased, cells burn out and die.
• Caused apoptosis, which is likely the result of increased ROS.
• Depolarized the mitochondrial membranes, which indicates a decrease in the cell's potential to function. Radiation alone does not injure the mitochondrial membrane as much.
More: Red wine compound may kill pancreatic cancer cells (4/14/08)
In related news, it may be worth noting that the biotech company called Sirtris, which has been developing enhanced therapeutic forms of resveratrol, recently entered into an agreement to be acquired by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline. (See here, here, here.) This shows that the therapeutic potential of resveratrol, and other sirtuins – at least at this early stage – looks promising.
Tags: resveratrol, sirtuins, cancer
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