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New research finds cancer fighting compound in red wine.

Associated Press--North Carolina researchers may have unraveled another knot of the so-called "French paradox" by learning how an antioxidant found in grapes and red wine fights cancer.

A study released last week concludes that trans-resveratrol may turn off a protein that guards cancer cells from cancer-fighting therapies such as chemotherapy.

The research may one day allow the compound itself to be used in cancer prevention and treatment, said Minnie Holmes-McNary, a nutritional biologist at the University of North Carolina's medical school in Chapel Hill. "The benefit is that it certainly provides an open door for potential therapies," said Holmes-McNary, the study's lead author. That may include taking a pill similar to a vitamin supplement.

The benefits of drinking a glass of red wine have been touted over the past decade after discovery of the "French paradox": low rates of heart disease found among the French, despite high-cholesterol diets. Studies have shown the key may be the glass or two of red table wine the French drink at dinner.

A few years ago, researchers found that resveratrol--which acts like an antibiotic to protect grapes from fungus--kept cells from turning cancerous and stopped the spread of malignancies. Resveratrol also blocked cell inflammation, which is linked to arthritis and other diseases.

Resveratrol can be found in dozens of foods, including mulberries and peanuts. All wines have some resveratrol, but red wine seems to be its richest source.

Holmes-McNary and co-author Albert Baldwin Jr. at the medical school's Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center wanted to know how resveratrol kills cancer cells. Their findings were published in the July issue of the journal Cancer Research.

The researchers used previous research by Baldwin and others that determined the protein called NF-kappa B enabled tumor cells to survive even chemotherapy. When NF-kappa B is blocked in mice--done last year in a study--the cancer cells were eradicated by the chemotherapy.

Holmes-McNary and Baldwin tested how cultured human and animal tumor cells reacted to the resveratrol, learning that it effectively turned off the NF-kappa B cancer gene. Untreated tumors continued to thrive, Holmes-McNary said.

Discovering the mechanisms of resveratrol is important to developing the compound as a cancer-preventive agent for humans, said John Pezzuto, a University of Illinois at Chicago researcher who first reported resveratrol's link to red wine and fighting cancer in 1997. "It's a good contribution," Pezzuto said of the study. "... It seems like there are multiple mechanisms. In the end, there may be a common thread to all of them. It's like we're laying down pieces of the puzzle. This is one of those pieces."

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the North Carolina chapter of the American Heart Association.
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Title Annotation:resveratrol
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 17, 2000
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