Page last updated: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
More resveratrol news
Researchers from the School of Pharmacy at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK, have found that resveratrol is converted in the body to a known anti-cancer agent that can selectively target and destroy cancer cells. Although previous studies have suggested that this phytoestrogen might prevent cancer, they said it was the "first time that scientists had gained an insight into the underlying mechanism of the chemical’s anti-cancer properties." Professor Gerry Potter, the research group leader, said: "Resveratrol is a defensive molecule against fungus in grapes and other crops, and is found at higher levels in those which have not been treated with man-made fungicides. Resveratrol is processed by the enzyme CYP1B1, which is found in a variety of different tumours. This converts resveratrol into piceatannol, a closely related phytoestrogen with known anti-cancer activity. Previous research by the team has shown that this process is restricted to the tumour itself, limiting the toxicity to the cancer cells and serving to selectively destroy them.

Scientists previously believed that CYP1B1 was a cause of cancer, because it is only found in tumours and not in healthy tissue. They now think the enzyme is there to fight it and the team is continuing research into ways it works. "The belief that CYP1B1 is a cause of cancer is like blaming police for a crime just because they are on the scene," Potter said. "We suspected this natural product might have cancer preventative properties. This research shows just how it could prevent tumours developing by producing these anti-cancer molecules within the cancer cells themselves."

Source: British Journal of Cancer 2002;5.

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