Resveratrol compounds found in red wine and grape skins could make certain tumour cells more susceptible to radiation treatment, according to research from the University of Missouri.
The study, published in the Journal of Surgical Research, found that resveratrol inhibited the survival of melanoma cells under radiation treatment.
One of the study authors, Michael Nicholl, assistant professor of surgery at the University of Missouri of Medicine and surgical oncologist at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, said: "We've seen glimmers of possibilities, and it seems that resveratrol could potentially be very important in treating a variety of cancers.
"It comes down to how to administer the resveratrol. If we can develop a successful way to deliver the compound to tumour sites, resveratrol could potentially be used to treat many types of cancers."
Resveratrol kills 44% of tumour cells alone
Under the study, the researchers treated cancer cells with 0–50 μM of resveratrol for 24 hours. They found that simply treating the cells with resveratrol killed 44% of tumour cells. When resveratrol was combined with radiation treatment, 65% of the tumour cells died.
The study authors will next explore how to deliver resveratrol to tumour sites in order to treat cancers.
Don’t rely on resveratrol supplements yet, says researcher
Nicholl said: “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 tumours, which can develop in the brain or bone.”
However, he said that the compounds were probably not effective for treating advanced melanoma at this time and said it was too early for patients to rely on over-the-counter resveratrol supplements as more research was needed. The dose used in the study was extracted and refined and was far higher than levels naturally found in a glass of wine or grapes.
Clinical trials afoot?
If future research yields successful results, the University of Missouri will request permission from the US federal government to begin human drug development. If the request is granted, the researchers may conduct clinical trials to develop new cancer treatments.
The recent study builds on earlier work by the same researchers with resveratrol and radiation in prostate cancer. There they found that the compound made prostate tumor cells more susceptible to radiation treatment.
Another study last year by the University of Leicester in the UK suggested that a daily dose of resveratrol equivalent to two glasses of wine could slash the rate of bowel tumours by 50%.
Journal of Surgical Research, Vol, 183, Issue 2 , pps 645-653
‘A potential role for resveratrol as a radiation sensitizer for melanoma treatment’
Authors: Yujiang Fang, Moore J. Bradley, Kathryn M. Cook, Elizabeth J. Herrick, Michael B. Nicholl