A compound found in grapes has cancer-fighting properties, reports the Agricultural Research Service, the main scientific research agency of the US Department of Agriculture.
ARS research chemist Agnes Rimando discovered that a compound called pterostilbene possesses similar cancer chemopreventive qualities to those found in resveratrol, another compound in grapes. Pterostilbene also showed strong inhibitory activity against breast cancer cell lines.
However, Rimando stressed that the evidence remained preliminary and that the compound had yet to be evaluated in humans.
Previous research on resveratrol has shown that the compound helps grape plants fight off fungi. It has also been linked to low incidences of coronary heart disease among wine-drinking populations.
Unlike resveratrol, however, pterostilbene is already known to possess anti-diabetic properties. It was first isolated from red sandalwood (Pterocarpus santalinus). Together with resveratrol, it has also been identified in Vitis vinifera (wine grape) leaves, in Chardonnay and Gamay berries infected with fungus and in healthy Pinot Noir and Gamay berries.
The study, prompted by pterostilbene's close structural similarity to resveratrol, was conducted with the use of a mouse mammary gland culture model that was exposed to a chemical carcinogen. The carcinogen caused pre-cancerous cells on which the compound was tested.