Medical scientists from both the US and China seem to have discovered that grape-seed extract kills laboratory leukemia cells. In an amazing discovery, they found the extract makes the cancer cells commit suicide. Another discovery that shows the viable potential value of natural compounds that could be used in treatment of cancer.
The study is part of work by lead author, Dr Xianglin Shi, a professor in the Graduate Center for Toxicology at the University of Kentucky. Also his colleagues, which is published online in the January 2009 issue of Clinical Cancer Research, American Association for Cancer Research medical journal.
The probable presence of proanthocyanidins, in fruit and vegetables has already proved of benefit to prevent some cancer. Shi and colleagues have already investigated this family of antioxidant compounds in apple peel. The study did find that proanthocyanidins triggered cell death in cancer cells, but not in non-cancer cells.
It has been suggested that from the studies on grape seed extract, that it reduces breast tumors in rats and skin tumors in mice, and is active in human cancer cell lines that are in the laboratory, such as skin, breast, colon, lung, stomach and prostate cancer cells. It is only now that it is being investigated on its effect on blood cancers. As it has never been done before.
Shi’s studies have used a grape seed extract from commonly available grapes. Then he and his colleagues exposed leukemia cells to various concentrations of the extract. This was done for various time frames such as 12 and 24 hours. They then also looked at what happened when the leukemia cells had been exposed to 50 µg/mL of the grape extract over varying intervals of time.
This resulted in the study showing that exposure to the grape seed extract, had resulted in dose and a time dependent increase in cancer cell apoptosis. (a form of cell death) It was also discovered that the extract did not affect normal cells but they were not able to find out why this was.
Quoted as saying on Medical News Today, Shi said, “This is a natural compound that appears to have relatively important properties.
“These results could have implications for the incorporation of agents such as grape seed extract into prevention or treatment of hematological malignancies and possibly other cancers. What everyone seeks is an agent that has an effect on cancer cells but leaves normal cells alone, and this shows that grape seed extract fits into this category.”
Shi also said, “The findings were not enough to warrant advising that people are to start eating lots of grapes, grape seeds, or grape skin in the hope they will avoid getting cancer. It’s too early to say for sure that grape seed extract has this effect, even though the results are promising. Killing cancer cells in a test tube is not the same as treating tumors in live subjects.”
Shi and his colleagues examined what it is that allows the grape seed extract, to cause leukemia cells to commit suicide. Which led to the findings that the extract had a strong effect on the activation of something known as JNK (a protein gene)
They then checked their findings again by showing that the grape seed extract didn’t work when used with an agent that blocked JNK. This was a pharmacologic approach. Also by using a genetic approach, they showed that silencing the JNK gene, also found it disabled the grape seed extract’s ability to trigger apoptosis.
It seems that medical study teams are on the verge of many great breakthroughs, when it comes to developing treatments for cancer. It does not though give us the excuse not to live healthy lives. With exception to those that contract cancer through no fault of there own.
We all will benefit from the research conducted by science teams. We can all do our part by continued contributions to the various charities. We can also help by spreading awareness. It is amazing how many of us ignore the issues of cancer… until it happens to us! Why wait? Spend a bit of time researching or reading up on cancer, you may be well informed if you should be struck down by the decease. Or you may be in a better position to understand the needs of a loved one or friend if they have or contract cancer.
You would be shocked if you read figures for cancer deaths in the U.S. alone. It’s time we did become more aware. And maybe we should adopt better habits that prevent cancer in the first place such as smoking!
As information to yourselves I am providing a link to cancer figures (pdf) for 2008.
Sources and Quotes: cancer.org, wisegeek.com, Clinical Cancer Research Journal, Medical News Today.