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vital: Broccoli benefits.

Byline: John von Radowitz

A CANCER-FIGHTING compound in broccoli could offer new hope to patients with a genetic skin disease.

Tests on mice genetically engineered to have the same condition showed they improved significantly after treatment with the plant chemical sulphoraphane.

The inherited disorder epidermolysis bullosa simplex (EBS) causes the skin to become fragile and prone to breakage and eruptions of fluid-filled blisters.

Treatment options for the sometimes fatal rare condition that affects one in 30,000 children are limited.

But now scientists have found sufferers might be helped by a wonder-ingredient in broccoli.

Sulphoraphane, which is also present in cousins of the vegetable such as Brussels sprouts, has already been shown to reduce the chances of developing cancer.

It also activates skin structure proteins called keratins. Researchers reasoned this might give the compound therapeutic value in the treatment of EBS.

The disorder is due to gene defects that result in a lack of one or both of two of these proteins, keratin 5 (K5) and keratin 14 (K14).

The findings were presented today at the American Society for Cell Biology's annual meeting in Washington DC.

Chief researcher Professor Pierre Coulombe, from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, said: "Much work remains to be done before sulphoraphane can be tested clinically with EBS patients."

But he pointed out that extracts from broccoli rich in sulphoraphane had already been shown to be safe for use on human skin.

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HEALTH BOOST: Broccoli
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 3, 2007
Words:245
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