Researchers have found Lunasin, a soy peptide to be effective in preventing metastasis of colon cancer to liver and other body parts. It was also found to potentiate the actions of Oxyplatin, a chemotherapeutic medicine, in modifying expression of proteins involved in apoptosis and metastasis. The study can be accessed online in the recent issue of “Cancer Letters.”
In the study, led by Elvira de Mejia, a researcher at the University of Illinois, four groups of mice were studied: the first group acted as control, the second group received lunasin daily, the third group received oxyplatin and the fourth group received both lunasin and oxyplatin. The mice were examined after 28 days for liver involvement.
The researchers found that lunasin was effective in preventing the metastatic colon cancer cells from attaching themselves to the liver by bonding with alpha5 beta1 ?integrin receptor on the colon cancer cells and inhibiting the activation of focal adhesion kinase. It also caused a reduction in the migration of cancer cells. The study showed that it helped in reducing metastatic nodules on the liver from 28 to 14. According to Dr. Vermont P. Dia, a University of Illinois postdoctoral fellow in the de Mejia laboratory and lead author of the study, lunasin not only enters the colon cancer cells and results in their death, but also interacts with certain receptors in the cancer cells ready to metastasize. New blood vessels cannot form and differentiate when the receptor is blocked. This prevents the cancer cell from metastasizing.
Another interesting find of the study was that lunasin was found to potentiate the action of oxyplatin by reducing the expression of proliferating cell nuclear antigen and in preventing the outgrowth of metastasis. When lunasin was used along with oxyplatin, the metastatic nodules on the liver were reduced from 28 to 5.
The researchers say that the amount of lunasin required to prevent the spread of cancer is available in just two glasses of soy milk and therefore, soy milk can be consumed to prevent cancer metastasis. However, it remains to be seen how effective lunasin is, when taken through the oral route, instead of the injected form which was used in the experiment.