A report on a recent review published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences titled, “Phytochemicals as Innovative Therapeutic Tools against Cancer Stem Cells,” (1) evaluated the evidence for what natural compounds within various foods and spices make for the most compelling treatments for targeting CSCs.
According to the review of 30 years worth of literature on the topic, the following 10 natural substances have been demonstrated to be the most effective chemopreventive dietary agents against Cancer Stem Cells:
Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG): A green tea extract
Curcumin: The primary polyphenol in turmeric root
Resveratrol: A phytochemical found in grapes, peanuts, Japanese knotweed
Lycopene: A red carotenoid found in watermelon, pink grapefruit, and tomatoes
Luteolin: A flavonoid found in peppers and various green vegetables
Genistein: A phytochemical found in soy, red clover, and coffee
Piperine: A phytochemicals found in black pepper
β-carotene: An orange carotenoid found in various vegetables
Sulforaphane: A sulfurous phytochemical found in Cruciferous vegetables
The researchers described the discovery that phytochemicals can selectively target CSCs as “a milestone in the improvement of cancer treatment because the synthetic anticancer drugs that are currently used are often highly toxic for healthy organs and weakens the patient’s immune system.”
They also pointed out that the phytochemicals or extracts identified above, due to their “low levels of toxicity for normal cells,” can be used in combination with other phytochemicals, “yielding powerful synergistic effects.”
They identified several key areas of focus for the future:
Finding a way to combine these compounds into “very active cocktails of phytochemicals” to address the multiple areas of treatment resistance often found in CSCs.
Compare the effects of natural phytochemicals with synthetic drugs, the latter of which they anticipate will be found to be less efficient.
Further research should be performed on CSCs to better understand the signaling pathways that govern their self-renewal and survival.
The authors concluded, “The use of phytochemicals may be a true therapeutic strategy for eradicating cancer through the elimination of CSCs.”
(1) Phtochemicals as Innovative Therapeutic Tools against Cancer
Emanuel-Salvatore Scarpa et.al.
Int. J. Mol. Si. 2015, 16, 15727-15742