More good news for wine lovers: A new University of Missouri study has found resveratrol — a beneficial compound found in grape skins and red wine — can make tumor cells more susceptible to radiation, opening the door to new therapies that use the naturally occurring substance in treating many types of cancer.
This research, which studied melanoma cells, follows a previous MU study that found similar results in the treatment of prostate cancer. The next step is for researchers to develop a successful method to deliver the compound to tumor sites and potentially use it in targeting other varieties of cancer.
"Our study investigated how resveratrol and radiotherapy inhibit the survival of melanoma cells," said Michael Nicholl, assistant professor of surgery at the MU School of Medicine and surgical oncologist at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center in Columbia, Mo. "This work expands upon our previous success with resveratrol and radiation in prostate cancer."
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The study found that when melanoma cells treated with resveratrol alone, 44 percent of the tumor cells were killed. But when the cancer cells were treated with a combination of both resveratrol and radiation, 65 percent of the tumor cells died.
Resveratrol supplements are available over the counter in many health food stores, but Nicholl does not recommend that patients rely on it to treat cancer until more research is done.
"We've seen glimmers of possibilities, and it seems that resveratrol could potentially be very important in treating a variety of cancers," Nicholl said. "It comes down to how to administer the resveratrol. If we can develop a successful way to deliver the compound to tumor sites, resveratrol could potentially be used to treat many types of cancers.
"Melanoma is very tricky due to the nature of how the cancer cells travel throughout the body, but we envision resveratrol could be combined with radiation to treat symptomatic metastatic tumors, which can develop in the brain or bone."
Nicholl's study was published in the Journal of Surgical Research, the journal for the Association for Academic Surgery.
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