The compound killed 76 per cent of leukemia cells within 24 hours in laboratory tests without harming healthy cells, a team of international researchers has reported in US journal Clinical Cancer Research.
Team leader and toxicologist Xianglin Shi said: “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.”
Working with colleagues at China’s Military Medical University, Professor Shi, also of the University of Kentucky, showed that the extract caused cancer cells to commit suicide. He also tracked the biochemical pathways involved, a step necessary for exploiting the extract.
Close to 10,000 Australians were diagnosed with blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma in 2005, according to statistics released last month by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Together, the blood cancers were among the top five cancers that year.
The new work follows earlier laboratory and animal studies by Professor Shi’s group and others, showing the extract protected against solid tumours such as prostate and breast cancer and also caused cancer cells to die.
Although the results were excellent, Professor Shi cautioned it was too early to encourage people to eat grapes, grape seeds or grape skins to prevent cancer.
Michael Millward, an oncologist with Perth’s Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and the University of Western Australia, agreed. “Much more experimental work will be needed to show if this effect is specific only to this laboratory cell or if grape seed extract also has this effect on other types of leukemias and other cancers,” he said.
Professor Shi’s group discovered the active ingredients in the grape seed extract caused the cancer cells to die.
They chose to study the compound because evidence shows that eating fruits and vegetables helps prevent cancer.
“Due to these observations … the focus of cancer research in recent years has been shifting towards the isolation and … potential of chemopreventive agents present in fruits and vegetables,” the team wrote.
Leigh Dayton, Science writer | January 02, 2009
Article from: The Australian