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Scientists Uncover The Mechanism Behind Broccoli’s Ability To Prevent Cancer

January 11, 2011: 10:52 AM EST

In past research, scientists discovered that certain vegetables—broccoli, cauliflower, watercress, and their relatives—appeared to halt the growth of cancer; now, they think they know why. Substances called isothiocyanates (ITCs) found within those vegetables target and effectively block the action of a defective gene that occurs in half of all human cancers. When functioning properly, the gene in question—p53—keeps cells healthy and suppresses the growth of tumors. However, it does not do so when mutated. ITCs selectively target and remove mutated p53 protein, leaving normal ones unaffected. Scientists believe that ITC-based drugs could lead to more effective cancer treatment and prevention.

Xiantao Wang, Anthony J. Di Pasqua, Sudha Govind, Erin McCracken, Charles Hong, Lixin Mi, Yuehua Mao, Jessie Yu-Chieh Wu, York Tomita, Jordan C. Woodrick, Robert L. Fine, and Fung-Lung Chung, "Selective Depletion of Mutant p53 by Cancer Chemopreventive Isothiocyanates and Their Structure−Activity Relationships", Journal of MedicinalChemistry, January 11, 2011, © American Chemical Society
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