Red wine could be key to fighting prostate cancer thanks to a grape compound that makes tumour cells more sensitive to treatment.
Resveratrol, a compound found commonly in grape skins and red wine, has been shown to have several beneficial effects on human health, including on cardiovascular health and stroke prevention.
Now for the first time researchers from the University of Missouri have discovered that it can make prostate tumour cells more susceptible to radiation treatment.
A compound in red wine makes prostate tumour cells more susceptible to radiation treatment
'Other studies have noted that resveratrol made tumour cells more susceptible to chemotherapy, and we wanted to see if it had the same effect for radiation therapy,' said Professor Michael Nicholl.
'We found that when exposed to the compound, the tumour cells were more susceptible to radiation treatment.'
It follows another recent study that found a daily glass of wine boosted the survival chances of women with breast cancer by up to a fifth.
The findings are somewhat unexpected because drinking alcohol is considered to be one of the leading causes of breast cancer among healthy women.
One explanation is that the chemicals in alcohol which damage healthy cells also have the same effect on cancerous cells.
In the latest research, resveratrol was found to increase the level of two key proteins in prostate tumour cells. Following radiation treatment, up to 97 per cent of the tumour cells died, which is a much higher percentage than treatment with radiation alone.
Professor Nichol said: 'It is critical that both proteins, perforin and granzyme B, are present in order to kill the tumour cells, and we found that the resveratrol helped to increase their activity in prostate tumour cells.
'Following the resveratrol-radiation treatment, we realised that we were able to kill many more tumour cells when compared with treating the tumour with radiation alone. It's important to note that this killed all types of prostate tumour cells, including aggressive tumour cells.'
Resveratrol is present in grape skins and red wine. However, the dosage needed to have an effect on tumour cells at present is so great that many people would experience uncomfortable side effects.
'We don't need a large dose at the site of the tumour, but the body processes this compound so efficiently that a person needs to ingest a lot of resveratrol to make sure enough of it ends up at the tumour site.
'Because of that challenge, we have to look at different delivery methods for this compound to be effective,' Prof Nicholl said.
'It's very attractive as a therapeutic agent since it is a natural compound and something that most of us have consumed in our lifetimes.'
The next step is to test the procedure in an animal model before any clinical trials can be initiated.
But the early-stage results of this research, published in the Journal of Andrology and Cancer Science, are promising and if additional studies are successful within the next few years, officials will request authority from the federal government to begin human drug development, the team claim.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2231864/Could-red-wine-help-CURE-prostate-cancer-New-research-suggests-boost-effect-radiation.html#ixzz2C7y6Zkkr
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