UTHSCT researcher awarded NIH grant to study the prevention of pancreatic cancer

Monday, April 6, 2009

Ongoing research at The University of Texas Health Science Center indicates that natural chemical compounds in broccoli, red grapes, and green tea could help the human body fend off diseases such as pancreatic cancer.

Rakesh Srivastava, Ph.D., a professor of biochemistry at UTHSCT, recently received a five-year, $1.24 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study whether certain chemical compounds can help prevent pancreatic cancer.

He has spent the past six years investigating how these natural chemicals work.

These compounds are slow acting, non-toxic, and have few or no side effects. They are:

  • diallyl trisulfide – in processed garlic;
  • EGCG – in green tea;
  • resveratrol – in red grapes and red wine; and
  • sulforaphane – in broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, and collard greens.

“Right now, there is no cure for pancreatic cancer. By the time it’s detected, it is too late. The mean survival for individuals diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is five years,” Dr. Srivastava said. Because it’s so difficult to identify pancreatic cancer in its early stages, preventing it is crucial he added.

“We hope to establish that these cancer prevention agents are effective, that they inhibit the development of pancreatic cancer. If the data are promising, we hope to go on to clinical trials,” he said.

Dr. Srivastava and his team recently published research indicating that sulforaphane and diallyl trisulfide do block development of prostate cancer.

If the clinical trials are successful, the hope is that taking two to four capsules containing highly concentrated doses of these natural chemicals daily would help prevent individuals from developing pancreatic cancer.

For 60 years, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler has provided excellent patient care and cutting-edge treatments, specializing in pulmonary disease, cancer, heart disease, primary care, and the disciplines that support them. With an operating budget of more than $125 million and biomedical research funding that exceeds $12 million annually, UTHSCT has a major economic impact on East Texas. Its two medical residency programs – in family medicine and occupational medicine – provide doctors for many communities in East Texas and beyond.

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