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Cancer Killing cancer cells with a modified Vitamin E Succinate

May 19th, 2006

Cancer  Killing cancer cells with a modified Vitamin E Succinate

Vitamin E supplement

Researchers from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James) found that a derived form of vitamin E can cause cancer cells to die.  The study was first published in the April 28th issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Vitamin E succinate also known as alpha tocopheryl succinate which is available in supplement form is often taken due to the antioxidant benefits.  There has been some previous research that has shown a slight ability to kill cancer cells when taking this supplement.  Vitamin E succinate has been considered a chemopreventive agent.

The method the cancer cells are killed is through a natural process called apoptosis which is a programmed cell death.  The researchers wanted to further understand why the vitamin E succinate was capable of killing cancer cells.


"Our findings could lead to a potent chemopreventive agent that has both strong anticancer and antioxidant properties," said principal investigator Ching-Shih Chen, professor of pharmacy and of internal medicine and a researcher with the OSUCCC-James.  "Such an agent might help reduce the risk of prostate, colon and other cancers."

In the study researchers discovered that vitamin E succinate blocks a protein called Bcl-xL.  This protein is commonly available with healthy cells, but in cancer cells the Bcl-xL levels are at an abnormally high level which prevents cell death and allows the cancer to grow further.


The researchers found that in a computer model of the compounds that the vitamin E derivative works by disabling the Bcl-xL because of its shape fitting into a groove in the protein.  The vitamin E molecule shape does not fit tightly into the groove.  Improving the fit could make it more effective at blocking the Bcl-xL protein and stopping the cancer cell growth.

"Once we identified how the agent and the protein interact, we asked how we could improve that interaction," Chen says.

The researchers were able to further modify the vitamin E succinate to give a better fit into the Bcl-xL protein.  When the better fitting modified vitamin E succinate was tested on its ability to kill cancer cells it dramatically increased.  Its ability to disable the protein and kill the cancer cells increased by five to ten fold compared to the regular vitamin E succinate.


"Overall, out findings are proof of the principle that this drug can kill cancer cells very effectively but does very little damage to healthy cells," Chen says.

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Nicole Wilson
Best Syndication

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                   Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:47 PM