Interesting Fact: Broccoli and Kale Contains Tumor Suppressing Compound

Our human body is blessed with its own tumor or cancer-fighting mechanism but sometimes the body is just too weak to handle the stress. Researchers have now brought a great news revealing that cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale contain a compound which has the potential to re-energize one of the innate mechanisms.

The research was conducted by researchers from Harvard Medical School’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. The researches saw, indole-3-carbinol (I3C) hindered the growth of a tumor in a mouse model that had developed prostate cancer. In a research paper, they told that I3C helps in the production of PTEN. It is a protein which slows down the tumor growth and “whose activity is often decreased in human cancers.”

WWP1 is a type of protein which is commonly found in many types of cancers. The researcher’s team discovered a molecular gateway in which WWP1 changes and weakens the PTEN. However, their research shows that I3C has enough potential to turn off the gene of WWP1. This now helps the PTEN to show their full power by slowing down the tumor growth.

Director of the Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Dr. Pier Paolo Pandolfi says that “We found a new important player that drives a pathway critical to the development of cancer.”

He proposed that the molecular pathway is an “an Achilles’ heel [that] we can target with therapeutic options.” The findings of the research paper “Reactivation of PTEN tumor suppressor for cancer treatment through inhibition of a MYC-WWP1 inhibitory pathway”  are published in the journal Sciencemag.

How cruciferous vegetables control cancer growth?

When cells start dividing and spreading abnormally, it gives rise to a life-threatening health condition called cancer. Interestingly, cancer can develop in any part of the body.

Around 9.6 million people died due to cancer in 2018 a statistical figure was shared by the World Health Organization. According to them, its economic impact is also increasing. The cost of cancer in 2010 was $1.16 trillion across the world. More than 100 types of cancers exist in the world and each type varies from each other on the basis of its starting point.

At microscopic or cell level, scientists have spotted six hallmarks of cancer. The hallmarks mentioned below work

• Escaping cell death
• By sustaining growth signals
• Through promoting endless replication
• Through setting up a blood supply
• Triggering invasion and spread

The cancer cases are increasing day by day and now it is a dire need to find a cost-effective method for treating this life-threatening disease. Researchers and scientists are trying to find natural compounds in the plant world which can easily combat the disease.

There are many previous studies which support the notion that cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, and broccoli contain cancer-fighting compounds. Researchers proposed that the compounds in the cruciferous vegetables work on genes which trigger hallmarks of cancer.

Restoring of PTEN- a tumor suppressor

The team was already aware by the fact that PTEN is a strong tumor-fighting agent that slows down the tumor growth. But in cancer, the gene associated with protein might become absent or can be changed or even can become silent.

There are very rare cases where both the genes are completely deleted which means the absence of both the copies in a person. Usually, due to the active presence of only one copy of the two copies, low levels of PTEN protein is observed in tumors.

This forced Dr. Pendolfi and his team to ponder that if there is any way by which they can restore PTEN full power to suppress tumor growth. They were eager to find out the limit to which it can stop the tumor growth.

In order to find out the answers to their questions, they started studying the molecular pathways which activate PTEN.

When they studied the human cancer cell and mouse model having prostate cancer, they found that it is WWP1 protein which suppresses the PTEN ability to show its cancer-fighting property. Further study of this protein showed that the I3C is a “natural and potent WWP1 inhibitor.”

The research team is totally not supporting the point that eating a huge amount of cruciferous vegetables would produce the same beneficial effect. They advise people to begin with 6 pounds of raw sprouts every day so that they can achieve a healthy level of I3C.

Dr. Pandfoli and his team members are eager to use this new discovery in other ways. Their goal is to further examine the WWP1 molecule and find that if there are other stronger molecules to combat it.

Dr. Pendolf concluded it by saying, “These findings pave the way toward a long-sought tumor suppressor reactivation approach to cancer treatment.”

Adeena Tariq

Adeena's professional life has been mostly in hospital management, while studying international business in college. Of course, she now covers topics for us in health.

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