Broccoli Compound May Enhance Mesothelioma Treatment

 By Kathy Cooke.    25th July 2017

There is new evidence that a compound found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage may enhance
the benefits of the drug cisplatin in the treatment of pleural mesothelioma.

Sulforaphane Mesothelioma

Although pleural mesothelioma is highly resistant to conventional cancer treatments, most mesothelioma patients will receive chemotherapy with cisplatin and Pemetrexed as part of a multi-modal approach to treatment.

Now, researchers at Soonchunhyang University in S. Korea say the compound Sulforaphane could help cisplatin kill more mesothelioma cells with minimal side effects.

What are Cruciferous Vegetables?

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, and cauliflower are rich in anti-cancer compounds.
Sulforaphane is an organosulfur compound produced when the plant is damaged, such as from chewing. In order to test whether cruciferous vegetables can aid the treatment of mesothelioma, the scientists exposed a sample of human pleural mesothelioma cells to a mixture of the cancer drug Cisplatin and Sulforaphane.

The scientists found that:

“Combination treatment with the two compounds exhibited synergistic growth-inhibiting and apoptosis-promoting cell death activities, as demonstrated by a series of proapoptotic events”

The study utilized a concentration of sulforaphane already shown to have limited toxicity in healthy cells.

Investigating the Impact on Mesothelioma Cells

The combination of sulforaphane and cisplatin triggered reactions inside the treated mesothelioma cells. Reactive oxygen species - a byproduct of cellular stress - began to accumulate, the membranes around the energy producing mitochondria became weak and the nuclei of many cells became fragmented.

However, most cancer cells are tenacious and Pleural Mesothelioma cancer cells are no exception. One way in which they protect themselves against the cancer drugs is autophagy, where certain cellular organelles degrade and are broken down so their components can be reused in new cancer cells. When the researchers used another compound to try and stifle autophagy, the mesothelioma cancer cell killing power of the treatment combination of cisplatin and sulforaphane was increased.

The report concluded that:

“ The results of the present study provide a rationale for targeting cytoprotective autophagy as a potential therapeutic
strategy for malignant mesothelioma ”

Although the study used a compound found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, it does not suggest that eating these
vegetables will have the same effect. Mesothelioma patients should work closely with their doctor or dietary consultant to
ensure that they are eating a diet that will best support their body through the stress of mesothelioma cancer treatment.

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