Resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant found in the skin and seeds of grapes has been touted for a variety of health benefits. Now, a new study from Penn State researchers says the compound may also be effective at killing colon cancer stem cells.
For the study, researchers led by Jairam K.P. Vanamala, associate professor of food sciences at Penn State, split 52 mice with colon cancer tumors into three groups. One group was fed grape compounds, a second received an anti-inflammatory drug called sulindac, which has been previously shown to significantly decrease tumors in humans, and the third group acted as a control.
The mice that consumed the grape compounds saw a decrease in tumor incidence by 50 percent, which was similar to that seen in the animals consuming sulindac.
“The combination of resveratrol and grape seed extract is very effective at killing colon cancer cells,” Vanamala said in a statement. “And what we’re learning is the combination of these compounds is not toxic to healthy cells.”
The researchers hope that the findings could lead the way for clinical testing in humans, and one day potentially be used in a pill form to prevent the disease and decrease recurrence in colon cancer survivors.
“We are particularly interested in targeting stem cells because, according to cancer stem-cell theory, cancerous tumors are driven by cancer stem cells,” Vanamala said. “Cancer stem cells are capable of self-renewal, cellular differentiation and maintain their stem cell-like characteristics even after invasion and metastasis.”