Even low doses of the plant agent combinations produced protective effects, while the plant substances given individually produced markedly less benefit.
"Both the combined agents and the combined treatments work better than single agents or treatments in prevention of skin cancer," Dr. Walaszek said.
Preventing cell transformation
His colleague and wife, Margaret Hanausek, Ph.D., research associate professor of pharmacology, said the findings hold great potential for those most at risk for skin cancer and other cancers involving epithelial cells, including lung cancer.
"The combined inhibitory effects of different plant chemicals are expected to be particularly beneficial to, for example, smokers, former smokers or individuals whose skin is heavily tanned, who carry thousands of cells already initiated for malignant transformation," Dr. Hanausek said.
"Described combinations may be very useful in the prevention of skin cancer and other epithelial cancers in humans, achieving a high efficacy and potency with reduced side effects," agreed Magdalena Kowalczyk, Ph.D., research scientist.
The team continues to look for the best combinations of the natural agents in suppressing different events during skin cancer development, she said.
The researchers acknowledge that not all information, including effects on organs such as the lungs, can be gleaned from a skin cancer model. But it is an exciting start.
"The team's next step is to go to an ultraviolet B light model of skin cancer initiation and confirm the results," Dr. Walaszek said.
Mouse model developer
The team leader, Thomas Slaga, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology at the Health Science Center, develope
|Contact: Will Sansom|
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio