Penn State College of Medicine researchers have revealed that a topical compound called ISC-4 found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussels sprouts may increase sunscreens` abilities to prevent melanoma lesion formation.
Despite the use of sunscreen and skin screenings, incidents of melanoma continue to increase.
"With more than 1 billion dollars spent on sunscreen every year in the United States, the market for skin cancer prevention is enormous and continues to grow," said Gavin Robertson director of Penn State Hershey Melanoma Center.
"Addition of agents such as ISC-4 to sunscreens, body lotions or creams could have a profound impact on this market for preventing melanoma," he said.
The researchers targeted the protein Akt3, which plays a central role in 70 per cent of melanoma, by preventing cell death and has the potential to prevent early stages of melanoma.
"The Akt3 signaling pathway is deregulated in the majority of melanomas, making it a promising target which, if inhibited, could correct the apoptotic - or cell death - defect in melanocytic lesions, thereby preventing this disease,"
Isothiocyantes were identified as inhibitors of Akt3. These are naturally occurring compounds found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussels sprouts that have anticancer properties.
Unfortunately, previous research showed they have low chemotherapy potency on melanoma cells because high concentrations are needed to be effective.
To create a more potent version, the Penn State researchers previously developed isoselenocyanates (ISC-4), by replacing sulfur with selenium.
Now, they have found that repeated topical application of ISC-4 could reduce tumour cell expansion in laboratory-generated human skin by 80 to 90 per cent and decrease tumour development in mice skin by about 80 per cent.
The research also showed that the use of the compound is safe.
The study was published in Cancer Prevention Research.