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Bilberry extract -- can it help prevent certain cancers?
Date:10/4/2007

A Leicester cancer research project, which receives funding from Hope Against Cancer (formerly The Hope Foundation,) is investigating whether an extract from bilberries can prevent or delay the onset of certain cancers.

Professor Andy Gescher, of the University of Leicester, is leading an investigation to carry out clinical trials with the commercially produced substance Mirtoselect (extracted from bilberries), with the cooperation of patients about to undergo surgery for colorectal and liver cancer.

Among his research team are two Allison Wilson Fellows whose work is funded by Hope Against Cancer, Ms Sarah Thomasset and Mr Giuseppe Garcea.

The research project, which takes place in the University of Leicesters Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine and at the Leicester General Hospital, has already established that in a laboratory model Mirtoselect decreases the development of colorectal cancer.

Now, working with Mr Dave Berry, Hepatobiliary surgeon at the General Hospital, they are looking to see how much of the bilberry extract actually gets into human tissue and whether there are changes in the tissue that may have been caused by the substance.

If so, then that indicates that taking the extract over a long period may be beneficial. If not, then the researchers have to decide whether it is feasible to increase the dose and whether it is right to go forward to a major clinical trial.

By comparing results with their laboratory model, the research team will have an indication as to how effective the bilberry extract is likely to be in preventing cancer. This will help them to design a protocol for a future clinical trial that will test whether it really does interfere with the onset of colorectal or liver cancer.

Ms Thomasset explained: "Modern medicine is increasingly trying to find ways to prevent diseases from developing. You can see this in the Public Health Warnings on tobacco pro
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Contact: Professor Andy Gescher
ag15@le.ac.uk
University of Leicester
Source:Eurekalert

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