We often hear that another anti-cancer substance has been found in some vegetable, berry or sea sponge – a molecule that inhibits the division of cancer cells, makes them die, etc. But how exactly do such substances work? I mean, with which molecules do they bind, which genes suppress, which proteins do they stimulate? In fact, these are very important questions, because knowing the molecular features of the action of anticancer compounds, it is possible to chemically design new drugs based on their motives that will be even more effective against cancer cells than their prototypes.
Researchers from Shantou University, Shri Venkateswara University and Ural Federal University analyzed thirty molecules from vegetables and fruits to see what proteins in the cell they interact with. The malignancy of a cell is associated with malfunctioning proteins: due to mutations in it, signaling pathways that stimulate division begin to work too actively, or, conversely, signaling pathways are turned off that make the cell die quietly when too many genetic defects accumulate in it. There are quite a few proteins associated with malignancy; therefore, anticancer molecules can act on one or several targets, albeit with different efficiencies.
In an article in Scientific Reports nine fruit and vegetable molecules are said to have broad anti-cancer properties – silibinin, flavopiridol, oleandrin, ursolic, oleanolic, alpha and beta-boswellic acids, triterpenoid, and guggulsterone. They are found in broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, spinach, carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, leeks, rutabagas, and turnips. These nine molecules act simultaneously on different target proteins from different signaling pathways. At the same time, they have favorite targets that they bond best with. And as a result, among the fruit and vegetable anticancer molecules, it was possible to find several that interact with particular efficiency with two important cancer signaling enzymes – when they begin to “become too active”, the cell is threatened with malignant degeneration.
According to the authors of the work, it is not so much about finding some kind of superdrug, but about finding a combination of molecules that will best stop the growth of tumors. Of course, these molecules (or their modifications) must be selected taking into account the fact that they will act not on a naked cell culture on a laboratory bench, but on a large and complex human organism. But, be that as it may, the results obtained are the basis for the development of new drugs with greater efficiency and targeted impact on cancer cells without side effects for the body.
Based on materials from the press service of the Ural Federal University.
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