Valuable broccoli ingredient discovered as an anti-cancer agent

Valuable broccoli ingredient discovered as an anti-cancer agent

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How a broccoli ingredient protects against cancer

Many studies point to the high health factor of broccoli. A recent study showed that a molecule in green vegetables can deactivate a gene that plays a role in the development of cancer.

A recent study by Harvard Medical School, Boston found that broccoli can deactivate a gene that is involved in the development of various types of cancer. The results of the investigation were published in the English-language journal "Science".

Achilles heel discovered for some types of cancer

The gene known as WWP1 is influenced by a molecule in broccoli, which means that tumor growth in cancer-prone laboratory animals is suppressed. This newly identified actor (WWP1) plays an important role in the development of cancer, report the authors of the study. The enzyme can be inhibited with a natural combination of broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables. This represents a type of Achilles heel of the cancer cells that can be specifically addressed with therapeutic options.

What is the PTEN gene?

As a known and effective tumor suppressive gene, PTEN is one of the most frequently mutated, deleted, down-regulated or decommissioned tumor suppressor genes in human cancers. Certain inherited PTEN mutations can cause syndromes that are characterized by cancer susceptibility and developmental disorders. However, since complete loss of the gene triggers an irreversible mechanism that stops cancer cell proliferation, both copies of the gene (man has two copies of each gene; one from each parent) are rarely affected. Instead, tumor cells have lower PTEN levels, which raises the question of whether restoring PTEN activity to normal levels in the presence of cancer can trigger the gene's tumor suppressive activity.

What role does the WWP1 gene play?

To find out, the researchers identified the molecules and compounds that regulate PTEN function and its activation. The team performed a series of experiments on mice that were particularly susceptible to cancer and on human cells, and found that a gene called WWP1, which is known to play a role in the development of cancer, produces an enzyme that inhibits the tumor suppressive activity of PTEN.

Is I3C the key to cancer suppression?

By analyzing the physical form of the enzyme, the researchers realized that a small molecule (formally indole-3-carbinol [I3C]), a component of broccoli and related plants, could be the key to suppressing the carcinogenic effects of WWP1. When the researchers tested this theory by administering I3C to cancer-prone laboratory animals, they found that the broccoli-based ingredient inactivated WWP1 and activated the tumor suppressive power of PTEN.

However, very large amounts of uncooked broccoli would have to be consumed to benefit from the potential benefits against cancer. For this reason, researchers are looking for other ways to use this new knowledge. The team is now planning to further investigate the function of WWP1 to ultimately develop more effective WWP1 inhibitors. Genetically or pharmacologically inactivating WWP1 with CRISPR technology or I3C could restore PTEN function and further drive the tumor-inhibiting effect. These results pave the way for a long-awaited approach to reactivating tumor suppressors in cancer treatment, the research team concluded.

Broccoli can extend life

In a previous study, scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that broccoli played an important role in energy metabolism and reduced signs of aging. For this reason, we should all eat more broccoli. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Cell Metabolism". (as)

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