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Bioactive agents from fruits and vegetables for tumor prevention and therapy

Our results show that the CSCs of pancreatic cancer are involved in pronounced resistance to therapy via a special mechanism, the NF-kB pathway. Sulforaphane, a bioactive substance from broccoli seems to break through this resistance: sulforaphane blocks the NF-kB pathway and thus makes the resistant cells vulnerable. But it is not just broccoli, but also other members of the Brassicaceae (the crucifers or cabbage family), which includes the various types of cabbage, rapeseed, radish, watercress, arugula and mustard having high content of sulforaphane and related mustard oils with similar mechanisms of action. Interestingly, the cruciferous vegetables are not alone among plant-derived bioactive substances against CSCs of pancreatic cancer. Other bioactive substances with such activity include quercetin, which is found in many fruits and vegetables; catechins from green tea and triptolide from a wine-like, Chinese plant. There are probably a number of other plants harboring drugs with activity toward CSCs and our research on this goes on. Our research focus here is on so-called "epigenetic" regulation mechanisms, including microRNA. Epigenetic regulation mechanisms are influenced for example by the diet. Epigenetic regulation, such as by microRNAs, can silence or normalize even deregulated genes that are commonly found in cancer patients. We hope for the characterization of a specific dietary pattern from our studies to normalize deregulated genes like the K-ras gene, and thereby modulate the tumor growth in the patient positively.