How Can My DNA and Wine Battle Cancer?

Protein 53 gene and resveratrol from grapes fight off cancer in cells

(RxWiki News) Grapes and red wine are being studied all over the world for their health benefits. The link may come from red wine’s ability to boost an existing cancer fighting gene.

A recent study tested resveratrol levels in cells with partial or full p53 cancer fighting genes. The study found resveratrol worked with cells with the full p53 gene to fight off tumors.

These researchers said “the introduction of the p53 gene in p53-defective tumors, followed by resveratrol treatment, may represent a novel and promising therapeutic approach in our fight against cancer.”

"Fight cancer with healthy foods"

Jerson L. Silva, MD, and Danielly Ferraz da Costa, PhD, from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, led a team of researchers to investigate the role of resveratrol in fighting cancer.

Resveratrol is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in foods like grapes, peanuts and berries. Resveratrol exists in these foods to kill off cells that have been attacked by bacteria or fungi so that it may no longer spread and infect other living cells.

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity of resveratrol has made it the focus of much research for diabetes, heart and cancer patients. In humans, protein 53, or p53, lives inside cells to help prevent tumor growth. When p53 doesn’t work correctly, or doesn’t exist, tumors are able to grow unhindered.

For the study, researchers introduced resveratrol to three different types of cancer cells from breast, non-small cell lung and basal cell skin cancers. One of the tumor samples had a partial piece of p53 and two with full presence p53.

Researchers found the resveratrol worked best with the two cancer cell samples that contained the full expression of p53 and did not work well with the cancer cell with the partial p53 gene. For the next step, researchers introduced resveratrol and a complete p53 gene to the cancer cell with the partial piece of p53. Result showed a reduction in the cancer tumor.

Dr. Ferraz da Costa said, “Our findings may have potential applications in cancer cell lines that are under p53 control.”

Further studies will be necessary to fully understand which types of cancer will respond best to this resveratrol fully functioning p53 dual therapy.

This study was published in November in PLOS ONE.

Funding for this study was provided by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, the Rio de Janeiro State Foundation for Research, the Ministry of Health, Cancer Foundation, and the National Institute of Science and Technology for Structural Biology and Bioimaging.

No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
November 18, 2012