Red wine may help rapamycin fight breast cancer

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Breast cancer cells that are resistant to rapamycin alone may have a better response when the agent is combined with resveratrol, a polyphenol found in the skin of red grapes and a constituent of red wine.

“Rapamycin has been used in clinical trials as a cancer treatment,” explained Charis Eng, MD, PhD, chair of the Genomic Medicine Institute of Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute and leader of the resveratrol study. “Unfortunately, after a while, the cancer cells develop resistance to rapamycin. Our findings show that resveratrol seems to mitigate rapamycin-induced drug resistance in breast cancers, at least in the laboratory.”

As Dr. Eng and her team noted in their study, published in Cancer Letters (2011;301:168-176), they found that combining resveratrol with rapamycin resulted in modest additive inhibitory effects on the growth of breast cancer cells.

If these observations hold true in the clinical setting, commented Dr. Eng in a statement announcing the study results, “Then enjoying a glass of red wine or eating a bowl of boiled peanuts—which has a higher resveratrol content than red wine—before rapamycin treatment for cancer might be a prudent approach.”

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