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How Tomatoes and Potatoes Could Be Used To Treat Cancer

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Glycoalkaloids are a class of natural compounds found in many plants, especially those of the Solanaceae family, which includes potato, tomato, eggplant, and pepper plants. Separation, purification and manipulation are studied.

Glycoalkaloids found in plants of the genus Solanum It may become an important component of future anticancer drugs.

Cancer is a disease that affects many people around the world. Approximately 19 million new cases and 10 million deaths were registered in 2020. Cancer treatments continue to improve, but they can still damage healthy cells and cause serious side effects. In search of more targeted and effective anticancer agents, researchers are exploring the potential of bioactive compounds found in traditional medicine, such as glycoalkaloids.

A team of scientists led by Magdalena Winkiel of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland recently The forefront of pharmacologyare investigating the potential of glycoalkaloids contained in common vegetables such as potatoes and tomatoes as cancer therapeutic agents.

“Scientists around the world continue to search for drugs that are both lethal to cancer cells and safe to healthy cells.” Nevertheless, it is not easy, so it may be worth going back to the medicinal plants that were used many years ago and were successful in treating various ailments. I believe there is value in rediscovering sex.”

make medicine from poison

Winkiel and her colleagues focused on five glycoalkaloids: solanine, chaconine, solasonine, solamargine, and tomatine. They are found in crude extracts of the nightshade family of plants, also known as nightshades. This family includes many common edible plants. Many plants are toxic because they produce alkaloids, often as a defense against plant-eating animals. They can then be powerful clinical tools.

Glycoalkaloids in particular can inhibit cancer cell proliferation and promote cancer cell death. These are important target areas for controlling cancer and improving patient prognosis and therefore have great potential for future treatments.In silico studies — a critical first step — suggest that glycoalkaloids are not toxic and pose no risk of damage[{” attribute=””>DNA or causing future tumors, although there may be some effects on the reproductive system.

“Even if we cannot replace anticancer drugs that are used nowadays, maybe combined therapy will increase the effectiveness of this treatment,” Winkiel suggested. “There are many questions, but without detailed knowledge of the properties of glycoalkaloids, we will not be able to find out.”

From tomatoes to treatments

One necessary step forward is using in vitro and model animal studies, to determine which glycoalkaloids are safe and promising enough to test in humans. Winkiel and her colleagues highlight glycoalkaloids derived from potatoes, like solanine and chaconine – although the levels of these present in potatoes depend on the cultivar of potato and the light and temperature conditions the potatoes are exposed to. Solanine stops some potentially carcinogenic chemicals from transforming into carcinogens in the body and inhibits metastasis. Studies on a particular type of leukemia cells also showed that at therapeutic doses, solanine kills them. Chaconine has anti-inflammatory properties, with the potential to treat sepsis.

Meanwhile, solamargine — which is mostly found in aubergines — stops liver cancer cells from reproducing. Solamargine is one of several glycoalkaloids that could be crucial as a complementary treatment because it targets cancer stem cells which are thought to play a significant role in cancer drug resistance. Solasonine, which is found in several plants from the nightshade family, is also thought to attack cancer stem cells by targeting the same pathway. Even tomatoes offer potential for future medicine, with tomatine supporting the body’s regulation of the cell cycle so that it can kill cancer cells.

Further research will be needed to determine how this in vitro potential can best be turned into practical medicine, Winkiel and her team noted. There is some reason to believe that high-temperature processing improves glycoalkaloid properties, and nanoparticles have recently been found to improve the transmission of glycoalkaloids to cancer cells, boosting drug delivery. However, the glycoalkaloids’ mechanisms of action need to be better understood, and all potential safety concerns need to be scrutinized before patients can benefit from cancer drugs straight out of the vegetable patch.

Reference: “Anticancer activity of glycoalkaloids from Solanum plants: A review” by Magdalena Joanna Winkiel, Szymon Chowański and Małgorzata Słocińska, 7 December 2022, Frontiers in Pharmacology.
DOI: 10.3389/fphar.2022.979451

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