Compound in Onions Found to Kill Mesothelioma Tumor Cells
Researchers have touted the benefits of pond scum, red wine, and aspirin in fighting mesothelioma. Now, researchers in Korea have turned to another naturally occurring substance to fight the deadly cancer – quercetin (Qu). Found in the skin of many fruits and vegetables, including red onions, quercetin has been found to induce apoptosis, or kill, malignant pleural mesothelioma cancer cells.
Pleural mesothelioma, a unique form of lung cancer linked to asbestos exposure, is resistant to many cancer treatments leading to aggressive growth of the tumors. Mesothelioma is typically treated with chemotherapy, however, an apoptotic defect in mesothelioma often renders the chemotherapy ineffective allowing the cells to continue to grow and divide.
In order to test the effectiveness of Qu, the researchers injected Qu into mesothelioma cells. They found that the plant compound reduced the “mesothelioma cell viability” and increased the “apoptotic cell death.”
Just as with the use of resveratrol that naturally occurs in red wine, researchers found that SP1, a protein that plays a key role in tumor development in some cancers including mesothelioma, was suppressed when Qu was introduced. The researchers concluded this finding “strongly suggest[s] that Sp1 be considered as a novel molecular target of Qu in human malignant pleural mesothelioma.”
The results of the study were published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine.
Mesothelioma is diagnosed in close to 3,000 Americans each year. Currently, there is no cure for the cancer although patient survival can be increased through surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.