The study, published in the August issue of the journal Glycobiology, found that exposing prostate cancer cells to pectin under laboratory conditions reduced the number of cells by up to 40 percent. UGA Cancer Center researcher Debra Mohnen and her colleagues at UGA, along with Vijay Kumar, chief of research and development at the VA Medical Center in Augusta, found that the cells literally self-destructed in a process known as apoptosis. Pectin even killed cells that aren’t sensitive to hormone therapy and therefore are difficult to treat with current medications.
“What this paper shows is that if you take human prostate cancer cells and add pectin, you can induce programmed cell death,” said Mohnen, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. “If you do the same with non-cancerous cells, cell death doesn’t occur.”
Mohnen’s study adds to the growing body of evidence on the health benefits of pectin, which has been shown to lower cholesterol and glucose levels in humans. Cancer studies using rats and cell cultures have found that pectin can reduce metastasis and prevent lung and colon tumors. Another study found that pectin induces apoptosis in colon cancer cells. Mohnen’s is the first to show that pectin induces apoptosis in prostate cancer cells and brings scientists closer to understanding what makes the common component of plants an effective cancer fighter.
In her lab at UGA’s Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, Mohnen and her team analyzed three different types of commercially available pectin and found large differences in anti-cancer activity. They found that treatment under mild base conditions decreased the anti-cancer properties of pectin while heat treatment significantly increased anti-cancer activity.
Pectin is one of nature’s most complex molecules and has the potential to bind to several sites on cells and to elicit several different cellular responses at the same time. Mohnen and her team are working to identify the smallest structure within pectin that can induce apoptosis with the ultimate goal of developing pectin-based pharmaceuticals or foods with enhanced health benefits.
Mohnen said that more evidence is needed to support the use of specific pectin supplements, but said that most Americans would do well to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables.
“Even though we hear constantly that we’re supposed to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, it wasn’t until we started working on these studies that it finally hit home how really important that was,” she said. “By simply increasing your intake of fruits of vegetables, you’re going to get a lot of pectin and you’re going to get all of the other beneficial phytochemicals at the same time.”
The research was funded by the Georgia Cancer Coalition-Georgia Department of Human Resources, the University of Georgia-Medical College of Georgia Joint Intramural Grants Program and the federal Department of Energy.
Sam Fahmy | EurekAlert!
New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Disarray in the brain
18.12.2017 | Universität zu Lübeck
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
22.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
22.01.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.01.2018 | Life Sciences