According to one study, foods abundant in the chemical solanine, such as tomatoes and potatoes, may have anti-cancer properties. Solanine, according to the study, may be effective in treating a range of malignancies, including ovarian and breast cancer, by slowing cancer cell multiplication.
Cancer is a disease that affects many people all over the world. In 2020, around 19 million new cases and 10 million deaths were recorded. Although cancer medicines are improving, they can still cause harm to healthy cells or have severe side effects. In the pursuit for more precise and successful cancer therapies, researchers are looking at the possibilities of bioactive chemicals found in traditional medicine, such as glycoalkaloids.
A team of researchers from Poland’s Adam Mickiewicz University led by Magdalena Winkiel published a study in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology on the potential of glycoalkaloids, which are found in common vegetables such as potatoes and tomatoes, to treat cancer.
According to Winkiel, scientists are still hunting for drugs that may destroy cancer cells while staying safe for healthy cells. “Despite medical advances and the amazing growth of modern treatment methods, it is not simple. As a result, it may be good to return to the medicinal herbs that were previously effectively used to treat a number of illnesses. I believe it is necessary to revisit their traits in order to unearth their potential.
transforming poison into medicine
Winkiel and her colleagues focused on five glycoalkaloids found in crude extracts of the Solanaceae plant family, also known as nightshades: solanine, chaconine, solasonine, solamargine, and tomatine. This plant family comprises some well-known food plants as well as numerous dangerous ones, which are mainly caused by the alkaloids they produce to protect themselves against herbivorous animals. However, the appropriate quantity may turn a poison into a medicine: once alkaloids have been administered in a safe therapeutic amount, they can be valuable clinical tools.
Glycoalkaloids, in particular, may promote cancer cell death and inhibit cancer cell growth. Future therapies have a lot of potential since they are major target areas for cancer prevention and treatment. Although there may be some impacts on the reproductive system, in silico studies demonstrate that the glycoalkaloids are not poisonous and do not pose a risk of damaging DNA or causing future cancers.
Even though current anticancer drugs cannot be replaced, Winkiel hypothesised that combination therapy would improve the efficacy of this treatment. There are various questions, but we won’t be able to address them unless we have a complete grasp of the properties of glycoalkaloids.
anything from treatments to tomatoes
Using in vitro and model animal studies to determine whether glycoalkaloids are safe and promising enough to investigate in humans is a significant step forward. Although the levels of these glycoalkaloids in potatoes vary depending on cultivar and the light and temperature conditions to which they are subjected, Winkiel and her colleagues highlight compounds derived from potatoes, such as solanine and chaconine. Solanine inhibits metastasis and reduces the formation of numerous potentially carcinogenic chemicals in the body. Solanine has been demonstrated in studies on a specific kind of leukaemia cell to kill the cells at therapeutic doses. Chaconine’s anti-inflammatory properties may be utilised to treat sepsis.
Solamargine, found mostly in aubergines, inhibits the proliferation of liver cancer cells. Solamargine, one of numerous glycoalkaloids, targets cancer stem cells, which are thought to play a significant role in cancer treatment resistance. As a result, it is one of several glycoalkaloids that may be useful as a supplement treatment. The same pathway is thought to be targeted by the chemical solasonine, which is found in a variety of nightshade plants. Tomatine, which helps the body manage the cell cycle and hence destroy cancer cells, has the potential to be employed in medicine in the future.
Winkiel and her colleagues noted that further research would be needed to see how this in vitro promise might be efficiently converted into useful treatment. There is some indication that high-temperature processing improves the properties of glycoalkaloids, and current study has showed that nanoparticles improve the transfer of glycoalkaloids to cancer cells, hence improving medicine administration. However, before patients may benefit from cancer medicines derived from vegetables, the mechanisms of action of the glycoalkaloids must be better understood, and any potential safety risks must be thoroughly investigated.