Phytomedicine, DIM and triple negative breast cancer

Vitamins, minerals, natural compounds and supplements
Triple negative breast cancer (oestrogen, progesterone and HER-2 negative) accounts for about 15 per cent of all breast cancer and is a tough nut to crack - orthodox medicine seems to offer little and has yet to come up with a specific treatment.

In 2010 we reported that scientists at Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center had discovered that a substance in Brussels sprouts and broccoli which could block breast cancer cell growth.


So, perhaps Phytomedicine has an answer.
Well, according to scientists such as Dr. Mandip Sachdeva and Dr. Chandraiah Godugung (from the Florida A&M University) and Dr. Stephen Safe from Texas A&M University, it does. At the 2012 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Annual Meeting they announced that they had discovered an effective treatment for TNBC; it is called DIM, or diindolylmethane, a bioactive natural compound found in cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts and broccoli.


We are confident that the compounds we are currently working with are an effective treatment for triple-negative breast cancer. These compounds are safer for the patient than current treatments available, said Dr Sachdeva.


Back in 2009 researchers at UCLA found that indole 3 carbinol (I3C) could stop an enzyme crucial to the rapid growth of breast cancer cells. I3C is most commonly found in broccoli and cabbage. However this research was augmented by other studies (for example, at the Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey) because it is known that I3C is unstable once in the body and it is the metabolites of I3C that seem to have the required effect. One metabolite, DIM, seems to be a powerful, active ingredient. And levels of this may be easier to control via supplementation (In Vivo, July/August 2009) 


DIM has several separate but crucial actions. For example it can regulate both hormone balance and cell behaviour. In the case of the former, it denatures the form of human oestrogen known to cause cell and DNA damage, oestradiol. (However it is important to note that neither I3C nor DIM have oestrogenic activity themselves.)


But the important point is that DIM (and I3C) also have several other anti-cancer activities quite independent of any anti-oestrogen activity, or anti-HER-2 activity. For example they act via the p27 gene which causes cell death or apoptosis.


Research shows that apart from this neutralising role, reducing aggressive oestradiol to its safer sister, oestrone,  I3C seems capable of modifying receptor sites on cell membranes so that oestradiol loses its binding effect. 


Again, the active ingredient may be DIM which has  been shown to stop metastases and cancer cell invasion it down-regulates both a binding protein and its receptor in breast cancer cells as well as in ovarian cancer cells. (March 28, 2008 Cancer Letter)


DIM has also been shown to decrerase HIF-1 alpha and stops tumours forming a blood supply (May, 2008 Biochemical Pharmacology Journal). It increases levels of oxygen in cells and can cause cancer cell death.


DIM is known to be an anti-inflammatory agent.


It is already known that several pharmaceutical companies are working on synthetic forms of I3C and DIM.
Go To: Blueberries offer hope with TNBC


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