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University of California, Riverside researchers have identified key components in pomegranate juice that they say prevents prostate cancer from spreading to the bones. While the results are early, Manuela Martins-Green, PhD, a professor of cell biology at UCR believes the finding could lead to new drug therapies to fight cancer.
Martins-Green and her research team found pomegranate juice components seem to inhibit cancer cells movement and weaken their attraction to a chemical signal shown to promote prostate cancer to metastasize. According to the National Cancer Institute, one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.
The Martins-Green lab at UCR applied pomegranate juice compounds on laboratory-cultured prostate cancer cells that were resistant to testosterone. Previous research has shown cancer cells resistant to the hormone testosterone are more prone to metastasis.
The researchers noted not only increased cell death among the pomegranate juice-treated tumor cells, but also increased cell adhesion and decreased cell migration in those cancer cells that had not died.
The study’s findings were presented December 12, 2010 at the American Society for Cell Biology’s 50th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.
Next the lab analyzed the fruit juice to identify the active ingredients—phenylpropanoids, hydrobenzoic acids, flavones and conjugated fatty acids—that had a molecular impact on cell adhesion and migration in metastatic prostate cancer cells.
“This is particularly exciting because we can now modify these naturally occurring cancer-inhibiting components to improve their functions, leading to more effective drug therapies in preventing metastasis,” said Martins-Green. “Moreover, the genes and proteins involved in movement of prostate cancer cells are essentially the same as those involved in of other types of cancer cell migration, so the same modified components could have a much broader impact in cancer treatment,” she said.
The researchers plan additional testing on two types of laboratory-cultured prostate cancer cells to determine dose-dependent effects and side effects.