Emerging evidence suggests that Vitamin E chemical compounds may be useful in the treatment of several types of cancer; research by a team of local scientists has shown.
According to a lecture by Ph.D candidate Christiana Neophytou (photo) of the department of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus, Vitamin E exists in nature as a group of eight different chemical compounds. In addition, synthetic derivatives of natural vitamin E have the potency to induce cell death and anti-cancer action in tumourgenic cell lines and animal models.
"These substances can reduce the size of tumours in animals," Neophytou told The Cyprus Weekly.
"We have recently shown that natural Vitamin E as well as synthetic Vitamin E compounds can induce cell death pathways in prostate cancer cells," she added.
Neophytou and her associates have recently investigated a synthetic Vitamin E compound called TPGS that has been found to have potential in cancer chemotherapy.
"Our results showed that TPGS was able to induce cellular death and to inhibit the proliferation of breast cancer cells but not of normal cells.
"This means that normal cells were not affected by the compound while cancer cells were killed," she added.
The TPGS compound is currently being investigated in order to see whether it can help conventional cancer drugs reach cancerous cells more speedily.
"So, in addition to its ability to increase the ability of these drugs to enter cancer cells, it has also been shown that TPGS may enhance their effect and act in a synergetic manner," Neophytou said.
Overall, the research results suggest that TPGS many not only be useful as a cancer molecule for chemotherapeutic drugs, but also to enhance the effect of these conventional chemotherapeutic drugs in order to kill cancer cells.
"The next stage is to examine the TPGS in animal models, using breast cancer cells, so the idea would be to inject the animals with these cancer cells so that they will develop tumours and treat them with the compound and evaluate its ability to reduce the tumour size."
The research was carried our for more than six years, by Neophytou, her supervisor Andreas Neophytou, University of Nicosia associate professor Constantina Constantinou and a post-doctoral fellow Panayiotis Papagiorgis at the University of Cyprus. The research is a candidate for publication in the Biochemical Pharmacology journal.