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Grape Seed Extract Causes Leukemia Cell Suicide

December 31, 2008

Leukemia cells are no match for grape seed extract, according to a team of researchers from the University of Kentucky.

Their recent finding, published in the January issue of Clinical Cancer Research, suggests that grape seed extract is effective ““ killing 76 percent of all leukemia cells that were exposed to the extract.

Xianglin Shi, professor in the Graduate Center for Toxicology at the University of Kentucky, led a team of researchers who sought to study the extract’s activity in hematological cancers. Previous research had shown that grape seed extract was effective against several laboratory cancer cells such as skin, breast and colon

One powerful antioxidant found in grape seed extract is resveratrol, which is known to have anti-cancer properties, as well as positive effect on the heart.

“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,” said Shi.

“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 and his colleagues have been studying chemicals known as proanthocyanidins in fruits that prevent cancer growth. Shi has found that apple peel extract contains these flavonoids, which have antioxidant activity, and which cause apoptosis in several cancer cell lines but not in normal cells.

“This is a natural compound that appears to have relatively important properties,” Shi said.

Additionally, the team discovered a natural method of pushing the cancer cells to commit suicide by using higher doses of the extract. The extract activates a protein called JNK, which causes the natural cell suicide to occur.

While the study could hold promising benefits in the future, scientists said it’s too early to suggest that people increase their grape consumption in order to fight their risk of cancer.

“This is very promising research, but it is too early to say this is chemo-protective,” Shi said.

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