Grape seed extract compels leukaemia cells to commit suicide

December 31st, 2008 - 11:29 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 31 (IANS) Grape seed extract compels leukaemia cells to commit suicide. University of Kentucky (U-K) researchers found that within 24 hours, 76 percent of leukaemia cells had died after exposure to the extract.The investigators also teased apart the cell signalling pathway associated with use of grape seed extract that led to cell death, or apoptosis.

They found that the extract activates JNK, a protein that regulates the apoptotic pathway.

While grape seed extract has shown activity in a number of lab cancer cell lines, including skin, breast, colon, lung, stomach and prostate cancers, no one had tested the extract in haematological cancers nor had the precise mechanism for activity been revealed.

“These results could have implications for the incorporation of agents such as grape seed extract into prevention or treatment of haematological (blood related) malignancies and possibly other cancers,” said the study co-author, Xianglin Shi, professor in the Graduate Centre for Toxicology at the U-K.

“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,” he said.

Shi adds, however, that the research is not far enough along to suggest that people should eat grapes, grape seeds, or grape skin in excess to stave off cancer. “This is very promising research, but it is too early to say this is chemo-protective.”

Haematological cancers - leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma - accounted for an estimated 118,310 new cancer cases and almost 54,000 deaths in 2006, ranking these cancers as the fourth leading cause of cancer incidence and death in the US, said a U-K release.

Researchers also discovered that the extract does not affect normal cells, although they don’t know why.

These findings are scheduled for publication in Thursday’s issue of Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

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