Researchers believe that eliminating the CSCs is key to controlling cancer and in findings published in Clinical Cancer Research they found that, in both mice and cell cultures, sulforaphane targeted and killed the cancer stem cells and prevented new tumours from growing.
Recent studies, report the authors, indicate that CSCs have the capacity to drive tumour resistance and relapse/recurrence of cancer, with evidence building for the theory that a variety of cancers are driven and sustained by a small proportion of CSCs.
According to the American Cancer Society, 94,280 Americans will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and 40,610 will die from the disease.
The researchers argue that a lack of efficacy of current chemotherapies in advance and metastatic disease requires novel approaches to specifically target CSC populations.
The anticancer efficacy of sulforaphane, derived from broccoli/broccoli sprouts, has been evaluated in various cancers and the risk of premenopausal breast cancer was shown to be inversely associated with broccoli consumption, they added.
Furthermore, as a chemoprevention agent, sulforaphane possesses many advantages, such as high bioavailability and low toxicity. “Sulforaphane from broccoli extracts is efficiently and rapidly absorbed in the human small intestine and distributed throughout the body,” said the authors.
These previous studies, said the researchers, provide a strong rationale for investigating the chemoprevention property of sulforaphane in clinical trials, and the authors said that its chemoprevention properties against cancer are through both ‘blocking’ and ‘suppressing’ effects.
The concentrations of sulforaphane used in the study were higher than what can be achieved by eating broccoli or broccoli sprouts, said the team, and they added that prior research suggests the concentrations needed to impact cancer can be absorbed by the body from the broccoli extract, but side effects are not known.
While the extract is available in capsule form as a supplement, concentrations are unregulated and will vary, claim the researchers.
And they revealed that they are currently developing a method to extract and preserve sulforaphane and that they will then be developing a clinical trial to test it for the prevention and treatment for breast cancer.