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article imageCompound from plants targets cancer stem cells

By Tim Sandle     May 6, 2015 in Science
By using an enzyme and compound found in broccoli and Brussels sprouts, researchers have devised a chemical that can potentially prevent the re-occurrence of certain types of cancer. This is based on research in human cervical cancer stem cells.
The compound in question is called phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC). A five-year study has shown that this ‘precursor compound’ and an enzyme found in cruciferous vegetables combine during the chewing process to produce PEITC within the body.
PETIC is a naturally occurring isothiocyanate that is found in some cruciferous vegetables. An isothiocyanate is a natural product found in many plants. Vegetable foods with characteristic flavors due to isothiocyanates include wasabi, horseradish, mustard, radish, Brussels sprouts, watercress, nasturtiums, and capers.
The main interest with the chemical is not so much combating tumors but with helping to prevent cancer from coming back. The risk is that when cancer is treated with chemotherapy or radiation, cancer stem cells can survive and these could lead to a return of the tumor through regeneration or spreading to new locations.
By examining human cervical cancer stem cells in the laboratory and treating them with the PEITC chemical it was found that approximately 75 percent of the cancerous cells died within 24 hours. This effect was seen with relatively low concentrations of PEITC.
Importantly experiments in a Petri dish do not necessarily translate to the same effects in the human body. Furthermore, whether sufficient cancer fighting levels can be produced from simply eating lots of green leafy vegetables (especially watercress) is unknown, although there is a possibility that these greens could be beneficial. More research is needed in this area.
In addition to the cancer fighting properties PEITC is also a potential candidate for a dietary supplement.
The research was performed at South Dakota State University Department of Health and Nutritional Sciences. The study has been published in the journal BMC Cancer. The research paper is headed “Phenethyl isothiocyanate upregulates death receptors 4 and 5 and inhibits proliferation in human cancer stem-like cells.”
More about Cancer, Stem cells, Infection, Plants, Phenethyl isothiocyanate
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