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Broccoli compound backed to help in leukaemia fight

By Nathan Gray , 17-Dec-2012

A compound found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables could help to battle leukemia, say researchers.

Research suggests that a concentrated form of sulforaphane could help in the fight against leukemia after a team of US researchers found the compound can reduce the number of acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells in lab tests.

The finding, published in PLoS ONE, builds on previous research suggesting sulforaphane, which is a natural compound found in broccoli, may have both preventive and therapeutic properties in solid tumors.

Led by Dr Daniel Lacorazza from Baylor College of Medicine, USA, the research team noted that previous research has suggest that people who have a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables are at  lower risk for some cancers, but there is little work to test how this relates to leukemia.

"There have not been definitive studies showing how this compound interacts with blood cancers," said Lacorazza.

He added that while there is around an 80% cure rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, some children don't respond to treatment.

“For those cases, we are in need of alternative treatments," said Lacorazza who revealed that the concentrated sulforaphane works by entering the cells and reacting with certain proteins that cause cancer cells to die while healthy cells remain unharmed.

The researcher said that further research on the compound is now needed; however he said that the compound could one day be used as a treatment option in combination with current therapies.

Study details

The researchers tested the effects of the broccoli compound on cancer cells isolated from bone marrow and peripheral blood samples from children diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

“Samples were collected after written informed consent and frozen lymphoblasts were supplied in an unspecified manner,” explained the researchers.

The researchers then incubated the leukemic cell lines and primary lymphoblasts along with the purified sulforaphane in vitro to test the potential effects of the compound on leukemia

Lacorazza and his team found that the compound caused cancer cells to die while healthy cells obtained from healthy donors were unaffected.

He revealed that other studies in pre-clinical mouse models have shown similar results.

"Sulforaphane is a natural product. However, what we used in this study is a concentrated purified form," said Lacorazza. "So while eating cruciferous vegetables is good for you, it will not have the same effect as what we saw in the lab."

Source: PLoS ONE
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051251
“Sulforaphane Induces Cell Cycle Arrest and Apoptosis in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Cells”
Authors: K. Suppipat, C.S. Park, Y. Shen, X. Zhu, H.D. Lacorazza

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