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Fighting cancer with Cruciferous Vegetables

/ January 22, 2018 /

Mothers are right after all! A new study, which aims to use cruciferous vegetables in the fight against colorectal cancer, backs a diet that includes plenty of vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Kale.

Bacteria Plus Vegetables

According to a research team at the National University Singapore (NUS), a mix of bacteria and cruciferous vegetables could provide patients with a low-cost, sustainable therapy for colorectal cancer. This combination could provide an effective preventive measure against colorectal cancer and could also mop up the remaining cancer cells after the surgical removal of tumours.

The team began with genetic engineering of E. Coli, a type of bacteria found in the human gut. The modified bacteria was found to attach itself to the surface of cancer cells and convert glucosinolate from the cruciferous vegetables into sulphoraphane, a compound that can target and destroy cancer cells. Since this conversion does not take place in non-cancerous cells, the toxin does not affect the normal cells; hence, this system would provide a potent anti-cancer therapy for patients.

In laboratory tests, the research team reported destruction of more than 95 per cent of colorectal cancer cells by a combination of the engineered bacteria and broccoli extract. Surprisingly, this mixture was effective only against colorectal cancer and did not affect cancer cells from breast or stomach tumours.

The Way Ahead

These results have the potential to transform the anti-cancer regimen of the patients, using a minor dietary change as the key to prevention. According to one of the researchers, “We typically hope that these microbes can be used in the form of a supplement drink or a pill that could be taken on a weekly basis for adults. Ingested microbes will screen the gut for any abnormal cells and naturally clear them off with the help of a vegetable diet. Another application is in post-operative care, where patients can take these microbes to help eliminate any remnant cancerous tissues.”

Further research is focused on using this strategy as a useful complement to existing cancer therapies.

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