Consumers, Europe, UK, Ireland, Fresh/ Table, Health/Nutrition/Food Safety

Scientists believe glycoalkaloids in potatoes can be transformed into powerful new cancer fighting drugs

Scientists claim a potentially “powerful” treatment for cancer might lie in potatoes, according to new research published Wednesday.

As Brooke Steinberg reports in an article published by the New York Post, academic researchers from Poland report that glycoalkaloids — naturally occurring chemicals found in potatoes — have some cancer-fighting properties and could also help patients with the devastating side effects of treatments. 

A new peer-reviewed study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology reexamined the properties of medicinal plants — including the evidence on glycoalkaloids, which are also prominent in foods like tomatoes, peppers, goji berries and huckleberries.

Tests need to be done on human cells to establish exactly which glycoalkaloids are “safe and promising enough to test in humans,” according to the study.

Angharad Brewer Gillham, Frontiers science writer, writes in this article that Winkiel and her colleagues focused on five glycoalkaloids – solanine, chaconine, solasonine, solamargine and tomatine – which are found in crude extracts of the Solanaceae family of plants, also known as nightshades. This family contains many popular food plants – and many that are toxic, frequently because of the alkaloids they produce as a defense against animals that eat plants. But the correct dose can turn a poison into a medicine: once scientists have found a safe therapeutic dose for alkaloids, they can be powerful clinical tools.

Winkiel and her colleagues highlight glycoalkaloids derived from potatoes, like solanine and chaconine – although the levels of these present in potatoes depend on the cultivar of potato and the light and temperature conditions the potatoes are exposed to. Solanine stops some potentially carcinogenic chemicals from transforming into carcinogens in the body and inhibits metastasis. Studies on a particular type of leukemia cells also showed that at therapeutic doses, solanine kills them. Chaconine has anti-inflammatory properties, with the potential to treat sepsis.

Source: New York Post. Read the full story here
Related: Frontiers Science Communications article: Could new cancer drugs come from potatoes and tomatoes?
Image: Credit Couleur from Pixabay

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