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Medical University of South Carolina Researchers Discover Garlic Kills Brain Cancer Cells


8/28/2007 8:36:51 AM

CHARLESTON, S.C., Aug. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- For the first time, organo-sulfur compounds found in garlic have been identified as effective against glioblastoma, a type of brain tumor equivalent to a death sentence within a short period after diagnosis.

Swapan Ray, Ph.D.(MUSC Neurosciences/Neurology associate professor), Naren Banik, Ph.D. (MUSC Neurosciences/Neurology professor), and Arabinda Das, Ph.D. (MUSC Neurosciences/Neurology post-doctoral fellow) studied three pure organo-sulfur compounds (DAS, DADS, and DATS) from garlic and the interaction with human glioblastoma cells. All three compounds demonstrated efficacy in eradicating brain cancer cells, but DATS proved to be the most effective. The study will be published in the September issue of the American Cancer Society's journal, Cancer.

Cancer cells have a high metabolism and require much energy for rapid growth. In this study, garlic compounds produced reactive oxygen species in brain cancer cells, essentially gorging them to death with activation of multiple death cascades.

"This research highlights the great promise of plant-originated compounds as natural medicine for controlling the malignant growth of human brain tumor cells," Ray said. "More studies are needed in animal models of brain tumors before application of this therapeutic strategy to brain tumor patients."

Ray and Banik are optimistic about the possible applications of their discovery to patient care.

"Our basic studies will eventually be translated to clinics for patient care. We may have to wait several years before its application to humans, but the significance of this discovery is enormous," Banik said. "The benefits from this research to brain cancer patients will bring great satisfaction to researchers and clinicians who are trying to find a successful treatment for this devastating cancer."

Garlic-derived organo-sulfur compounds are small molecules that would not necessarily require complicated methods of delivery for treating brain tumor patients, the scientists said, and their natural origin is probably better for the human body than synthetic treatment options.

To take advantage of any potential anti-cancer benefits from garlic now, certain rules apply. Ray said to cut and peel a piece of fresh garlic and let it sit for fifteen minutes before eating or cooking it. This time allows for the release of an enzyme (allinase) that produces the anti-cancer compounds. Eating too much garlic can cause diarrhea, allergies, and internal bleeding, so it is important to monitor garlic consumption.

Medical University of South Carolina

CONTACT: Heather Woolwine of Medical University of South Carolina,+1-843-792-7669, or woolwinh@musc.edu



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