Resveratrol in Red Wine Found to Boost Drug for Breast Cancer

New research has found that Resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, can help boost a cancer drug’s ability to suppress breast cancer cells.

Researchers from Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute have discovered that when Resveratrol is combined with the cancer drug Rapamycin it can have a tumour-suppressing effect on breast cancer cells that are resistant to Rapamycin alone.

The research also indicates a tumour-suppressing gene known as PTEN is activated by Resveratrol.

Resveratrol has been making headlines for a number of years now and is being credited with a number of beneficial health effects – antiviral, neuroprotective, anti ageing, anti inflammatory and life prolonging.

It has generated a lot of research and is believed to be able to help with diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, eye diseases such as Age-related Macular

Degeneration and Diabetic Retinopathy and Retinopathy of Prematurity and may reduce the toxicity of radiation treatment as well as being a possible replacement for aspirin.

(If you are interested in reading up on some of these check out the Wine and Health section of my Blog).

Resveratrol is found in low doses in the skin of red grapes and hence its presence in red wine. As with many antioxidants, it’s actually produced by the plant as a defence mechanism – while we consider it an antioxidant, for the plant it’s an anti-fungal agent.

Other food sources include peanuts and some berries (blueberries, bilberries and cranberries). White wine contains less Resveratrol than red as red wine is fermented with the grape skins and seeds allowing the wine to absorb the Resveratrol.

Rapamycin was discovered on Easter Island in the 1970s, produced from a fungus made by insects, and originally used to prevent rejection in organ transplant patients. It has only recently been considered as a weapon against breast cancer.

In all trials conducted by the researchers, the use of low concentrations of Resveratrol and Rapamycin together led to a 50% reduction in tumour growth.

Although the study is still in early stages, the data shows that the drug combination could prove to be a good adjunct treatment with traditional chemotherapy. Charis Eng, MD, Ph.D., Chair of the Genomic Medicine Institute of Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute said:

“Rapamycin has been used in clinical trials as a cancer treatment. Unfortunately, after a while, the cancer cells develop resistance to rapamycin,” Eng said in a press release.

“Our findings show that resveratrol seems to mitigate rapamycin-induced drug resistance in breast cancers, at least in the laboratory.

If these observations hold true in the clinic setting, then enjoying a glass of red wine or eating a bowl of boiled peanuts – which has a higher resveratrol content than red wine – before rapamycin treatment for cancer might be a prudent approach.”

This is hopeful news for many of us who have either lost loved ones or are suffering ourselves from cancer and I will keep you posted as to developments in the press.

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