Red Wine Compound Could Help Fight Prostate Cancer
November 12, 2012

Resveratrol From Red Wine Grapes Could Help Kill Prostate Tumor Cells

[ Watch the Video: Fighting Prostate Cancer with Red Wine ]

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

A compound in grape skins and red wine may be able to help fight off prostate cancer, according to a new study published in the Journal of Andrology and Cancer Science.

Resveratrol, which is found in grape skins and red wine, has been shown to have several beneficial effects on human health in past studies, aiding cardiovascular health and stroke prevention.

The latest research by a University of Missouri scientists found that the compound can make prostate tumor cells more susceptible to radiation treatment, helping to increase a full recovery from all types of prostate cancer.

"Other studies have noted that resveratrol made tumor cells more susceptible to chemotherapy, and we wanted to see if it had the same effect for radiation therapy," said Michael Nicholl, an assistant professor of surgical oncology in the MU School of Medicine. "We found that when exposed to the compound, the tumor cells were more susceptible to radiation treatment, but that the effect was greater than just treating with both compounds separately."

Prostate tumor cells contain low levels of proteins, perforin and granzyme B, which can function to help kill cells. However, both proteins need to be highly "expressed" to kill tumor cells.

During his study, Nicholl introduced resveratrol into the prostate tumor cells and found that 97 percent of them died, which is a higher percentage than treatment with radiation alone.

"It is critical that both proteins, perforin and granzyme B, are present in order to kill the tumor cells, and we found that the resveratrol helped to increase their activity in prostate tumor cells," Nicholl said in the release. "Following the resveratrol-radiation treatment, we realized that we were able to kill many more tumor cells when compared with treating the tumor with radiation alone. It's important to note that this killed all types of prostate tumor cells, including aggressive tumor cells."

Resveratrol is not only found in grape skins and wine, but is also available over-the-counter in many health food sections at grocery stores. However, the dosage needed to have an effect on tumor cells is so great that many people would experience uncomfortable side effects.

"We don't need a large dose at the site of the tumor, 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 tumor site. Because of that challenge, we have to look at different delivery methods for this compound to be effective," 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."

He said the next step for the study would be to test the procedure in an animal model before any clinical trials can be initiated. In additional studies, MU officials will request authority from the federal government to begin human drug development.

Once the green light is given, researchers may be able to conduct human clinical trials with the hope of developing new treatments for cancer.