SAN ANTONIO, Texas, U.S.A. Scientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio are on to something that should bring joy to sunbathers everywhere. Studies show that certain plant substances, administered in combinations, have the ability to suppress skin cancer development in susceptible mice.
"On the basis of our research, supplements and creams or sunscreens may be developed, tested in humans and then used to prevent skin cancer," said Zbigniew Walaszek, Ph.D., research associate professor of pharmacology at the Health Science Center.
Natural agents, susceptible mice
The plant substances are being tested in SENCAR mice, which because of genetic manipulation are sensitive to skin cancer initiation and promotion/progression. The natural agents include resveratrol, found in the skin of red grapes, and grape seed extract. Others are calcium D-glucarate, a salt of D-glucaric acid, present in many fruits and vegetables and also the bloodstream, and ellagic acid, found in a host of berries and in walnuts.
Because each of these compounds has a unique mechanism of action, giving them in combinations has proven to be the most protective. The scientists also are combining treatments, administering the agents both topically and in the diet.
In one study, the team induced skin cancer by shaving the backs of rodents and applying a chemical that produces a genetic mutation. This was done twice a week for four weeks. At the same time, researchers applied topical resveratrol and fed the mice diets supplemented with various combinations of the plant substances.
The team evaluated several outcomes, including epidermal thickness. An increase in thickness is an indicator of pre-cancerous proliferation of cells in the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin. The researchers also monito
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University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio