Antioxidant found in many foods and red wine is potent and selective killer of leukemia cells

PITTSBURGH, April 23 -- A naturally occurring compound found in many fruits and vegetables as well as red wine, selectively kills leukemia cells in culture while showing no discernible toxicity against healthy cells, according to a study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. These findings, which were published online March 20 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and will be in press on May 4, offer hope for a more selective, less toxic therapy for leukemia.

Current treatments for leukemia, such as chemotherapy and radiation, often damage healthy cells and tissues and can produce unwanted side effects for many years afterward. So, there is an intensive search for more targeted therapies for leukemia worldwide, said corresponding author Xiao-Ming Yin, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of pathology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Leukemia is not a single disease but a number of related cancers that start in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow. Meaning literally white blood in Greek, leukemia occurs when there is an excess of abnormal white blood cells. There are both acute and chronic forms of leukemia, each with many subtypes that vary in their response to treatment. According to the National Cancer Institute, about 44,000 new leukemia cases will be diagnosed in the United States in 2007, and there will be about 22,000 leukemia-related deaths.

Based on previous reports that anthocyanidins, a group of naturally occurring compounds widely available in fruits and vegetables as well as red wine, have chemopreventive properties, Dr. Yin and his collaborators studied the effects and the mechanisms of the most common type of a naturally modified anthocyanidin, known as cyanidin-3-rutinoside, or C-3-R, which was extracted and purified from black raspberries, in several leukemia and lymphoma cell lines.

They found that C-3-R caused about 50 percent of a human leukemia cell line kno

Contact: Jim Swyers
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

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