Research into the anti-cancer properties of chemicals found in fruit

Preventing cancer of the oesophagous

Autumn 2007

£38,148 to the Institute of Food Research for a 1 year project to investigate the anti-cancer properties of chemicals found in fruit.
Adenocarcinoma is a cancer of the oesophagous that has a particularly poor prognosis.  It is widely accepted that diets rich in fruit and vegetables can help to protect against many types of cancer (including those of the oesophagus), and many of the thousands of chemicals present in fruit and vegetables are active against cancer cells.  One example is the proanthocyanidins, which are abundant in fruits and represent a significant component of the diet. Proanthocyanidins have been shown to inhibit the growth of several types of cancer cells and even cause them to commit suicide.
This project aims to understand how proanthocyanidins from apples induce this effect in oesophageal cancer cells, focusing on a particular set of proteins that play a role in regulating cell growth and division, and which are often disrupted in cancer cells.  This study will provide information into how these chemicals may affect the development of the disease, and will aid future studies into their use in cancer prevention or treatment.

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update:  Following the completion of the grant, the project was expanded by the research group, producing new insights into the anti-cancer activity of these natural chemicals.  The full results have been published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, vol 66, pp 335-341.