Page last updated: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Red wine compound may kill pancreatic cancer cells
Resveratrol, found in the skin of grapes and in red wine may help induce pancreatic cancer cells to malfunction and die, a lab study has found.

In the new study, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York treated human pancreatic cancer cells with resveratrol, either alone or in combination with radiation.

They found that the wine compound disrupted the activity of the cancer cells’ mitochondria, energy-producing centers needed for cells to function. Resveratrol also impaired certain cancer-cell proteins that thwart chemotherapy by pumping drugs out of the cell.

In combination with radiation, but not alone, the compound bumped up the production of cell-damaging substances called reactive oxygen species, potentially making the cancer cells more destructible and cancer cells treated with the combination were more likely to self-destruct.

“While additional studies are needed, this research indicates that resveratrol has a promising future as part of the treatment for cancer,” according to lead investigator Dr. Paul Okunieff.

The study used a relatively high dose of resveratrol, 50 micrograms per millilitre; the concentration found in red wine varies widely by type, but some wines have resveratrol levels as high as 30 micrograms per millilitre. It is still not known whether resveratrol from red wine would affect tumors in the body the same way it does cancer cells in a lab dish.

Source: Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, March 2008.

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