Grape compounds may help fight colon cancer: study

New york: Compounds found in grapes can kill colon cancer cells and may lead to novel treatments to prevent the deadly disease, according to scientists including those of Indian origin.

Cancer stem cells are capable of self-renewal, cellular differentiation and maintain their stem cell-like characteristics even after invasion and metastasis, researchers said.

“We are particularly interested in targeting stem cells because, according to cancer stem-cell theory, cancerous tumours are driven by cancer stem cells,” said Jairam KP Vanamala, associate professor at Pennsylvania State University in the US.

The compounds called resveratrol which are found in grape skins and seeds, could also eventually lead to treatments to help prevent colon cancer, said Vanamala.

“The combination of resveratrol and grape seed extract is very effective at killing colon cancer cells and what we are learning is the combination of these compounds is not toxic to healthy cells,” he added.

When taken separately in low doses, resveratrol and grape seed extract are not as effective against cancer stem-cell suppression as when they are combined together.

According to the researchers, including Lavanya Reddivari and Lavanya Reddivari from Penn State, The combined effect of grape seed extract and resveratrol may naturally be providing a shotgun approach to cancer prevention by using a wide variety of beneficial compounds to target multiple pathways that cancer stem cells use to survive.

“This seems to be beneficial for not only promoting bacterial diversity, but also preventing chronic diseases and eliminating the colon cancer stem cells,” Vanamala said.

Researchers separated about 52 mice with colon cancer tumours into three groups, including a control group and groups that were fed either the grape compounds or sulindac, an anti-inflammatory drug, which was chosen because a previous study showed it significantly reduced the number of tumours in humans.

If successful in human trials, the compounds could be taken in low doses in a pill form using currently available supplements for grape seed extract and resveratrol, which are also found in wine in a pill to help prevent colon cancer and lessen the recurrence of the disease in colon cancer survivors.

The study was published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.