Grape-based compounds kill colon cancer stem cells in mice

Grape-based compounds kill colon cancer stem cells in mice

Compounds from grapes may kill colon cancer stem cells both in a petri dish and in mice, according to a team of researchers.

The compounds -- resveratrol -- which are found in grape skins and seeds, could also eventually lead to treatments to help prevent colon cancer, said Jairam K.P. Vanamala, associate professor of food sciences, Penn State. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society.

"The combination of resveratrol and grape seed extract is very effective at killing colon cancer cells," said Vanamala, who is also a faculty member at the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute. "And what we're learning is the combination of these compounds is not toxic to healthy cells."

The researchers, who reported their findings in a recent issue of BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, suggest that the findings could pave the way for clinical testing of the compounds on human colon cancer, which is the second most common cancer in women and the third in men. If successful, the compounds could then be used in a pill to help prevent colon cancer and lessen the recurrence of the disease 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," said Vanamala. "Cancer stem cells are capable of self-renewal, cellular differentiation and maintain their stem cell-like characteristics even after invasion and metastasis."

When taken separately in low doses, resveratrol and grape seed extract are not as effective against cancer stem-cell suppression as when they are combined together, according to the researchers.



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