Washington: A super cocktail of six natural compounds found in turmeric, vegetables, fruits and plant roots can kill breast cancer cells without harming normal cells, a study led by an Indian-origin scientist has found.
The study led by Madhwa Raj, Research Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, found that the combo killed 100 per cent of sample breast cancer cells without toxic side effects on normal cells.
"One of the primary causes of both the recurrence of breast cancer and deaths is a small group of cancer stem cells that evade therapy," said Raj.
"These often multi-drug-resistant cells have the ability to generate new tumours, so it is critically important to develop new approaches to more effective and safer treatment or prevention of breast cancer," Raj added.
Researchers tested ten known protective chemical nutrients found in foods like broccoli, grapes, apples, tofu, and turmeric root (a spice used in Indian curry).
They finally settled upon six - Curcumin known as turmeric, Isoflavone from soybeans, Indo-3-Carbinol from cruciferous plants, C-phycocyanin from spirulina, Reservatrol from grapes, and Quercetin, a flavonoid present in fruits, vegetables, and tea.
The researchers administered these six at bioavailable levels to both breast cancer and control cells. They tested the compounds individually and in combination.
They found that the compounds were ineffective individually.
When combined, though, the super cocktail suppressed breast cancer cell growth by more than 80 per cent, inhibited migration and invasion, caused cell cycle arrest, and triggered the process leading to cell death resulting in the death of 100 per cent of the breast cancer cells in the sample.
The researchers observed no harmful effects on the control cells. Further analysis also identified several key genes, which could serve as markers to follow the progress of therapy.
Although the cocktail was not tested against BRCA1 and BRAC2, previous studies have shown that they are molecular targets of four of the six compounds.
The results are published in The Journal of Cancer.