Posted on May 16, 2019, 8 p.m.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli contain a compound that may be a weapon in the battle against cancer as it has been found to inactivate the WWP1 gene which contributes to growth of several common human cancers, as published in Science.
Researchers from the Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute have been able to successfully target WWP1 with the cruciferous compound to suppress tumor growth in cancer prone lab animals and human cells.
“We found a new important player that drives a pathway critical to the development of cancer, an enzyme that can be inhibited with a natural compound found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables. This pathway emerges not only as a regulator for tumor growth control, but also as an Achilles’ heel we can target with therapeutic options.” says Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD.
This conclusion was reached by addressing the well known tumor suppressive gene PTEN. Humans have 2 copies of this gene from both parents, which is often mutated, deleted, down regulated, or silenced in the presence of cancers, but both genes are rarely affected rather just diminished. Molecules and compounds that regulate PTEN were located to investigate how to return levels of PTEN to normal in a cancerous setting in order to regain its suppressive traits; WWP1 was found to produce the enzymes responsible for tamping the tumor suppressive activity of PTEN.
Further investigation revealed that the indole-3-carbinol molecule found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli may be the key to combating WWP1. Administering I3C to cancer prone animals was observed to inactivate the WWP1 compound which allowed PTEN to regain its suppressive abilities. The team hopes to continue to build on this research to develop WWP1 inhibiting treatments.
Upping intake of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, kale, and cauliflowers to boost PTEN efficiency won’t hurt, however, according to the researchers you would need to consume about 6 pounds of uncooked Brussels sprouts per day to reap a serious anticancer benefit.
“Either genetic or pharmacological inactivation of WWP1 with either CRISPR technology or I3C could restore PTEN function and further unleash its tumor suppressive activity. These findings pave the way toward a long-sought tumor suppressor reactivation approach to cancer treatment.”
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