Garlic is probably
nature's most potent food. It is one of the reasons people
who eat the Mediterranean diet live such long healthy lives.
Garlic is also a powerful performer in the research lab.
Washington State University previously showed that garlic is
100 times more effective than two
popular antibiotics at fighting disease causing
bacteria commonly responsible for food-borne illness.
Glioblastoma is the most
common and most aggressive malignant primary brain tumor in
humans, involving glial cells and accounting for 52% of all
functional tissue brain tumor cases and 20% of all
Treatment typically involves
chemotherapy and radiation
which unfortunately kills brain cells indiscriminately and
offers a median survival rate of 15 months.
More than 90% of chemotherapy patients also die within 10-15
years after treatment. For the first time, organo-sulfur
compounds found in garlic have been identified as effective
against glioblastoma, and may soon offer effective
non-invasive forms of cancer therapy without the deadly side
effects associated with chemotherapy.
Swapan Ray, Ph.D.(MUSC Neurosciences/Neurology
associate professor), Naren Banik, Ph.D. (MUSC
Neurosciences/Neurology professor), and Arabinda Das,
Ph.D. (MUSC Neurosciences/Neurology post-doctoral fellow)
studied three pure organo-sulfur compounds,
...from garlic and the
interaction with human glioblastoma cells.
The sulphone hydroxyl ions in garlic can actually penetrate
the blood-brain barrier.
All three compounds demonstrated
efficacy in eradicating brain cancer cells, but
DATS proved to be the most
The study was published in
American Cancer Society's journal, 'Garlic
compounds generate reactive oxygen species leading to
activation of stress kinases and cysteine proteases for
apoptosis in human glioblastoma T98G and U87MG cells'.
"This research highlights
the great promise of plant-originated compounds as
natural medicine for controlling the malignant growth of
human brain tumor cells," Ray said.
Ray and Banik are optimistic
about the possible applications of their discovery to
"Our basic studies will
eventually be translated to clinics for patient care. We
may have to wait several years before its application to
humans, but the significance of this discovery is
enormous," Banik said.
"The benefits from this
research to brain cancer patients will bring great
satisfaction to researchers and clinicians who are
trying to find a successful treatment for this
A breakdown of allicin appears
to be necessary for achieving maximum tumor inhibition.
Allyl sulfur compounds preferentially suppress neoplastic
over non-neoplastic cells (Sakamoto,
Lawson, and Milner 1997).
It is becoming increasingly clear that the response to allyl
sulfurs relates to their ability to form free radicals
rather than to serve as an antioxidant (Antosiewicz
et al. 2008). Allyl sulfurs may bring about
changes by influencing the genomic expression by affecting
Garlic-derived organo-sulfur compounds are small molecules
that would not necessarily require complicated methods of
delivery for treating brain tumor patients, the scientists
said, and their natural origin would be significantly better
for the human body than synthetic treatment options.
To take advantage of any potential anti-cancer benefits from
garlic now, certain rules apply. Ray said to cut and peel a
piece of fresh garlic and let it sit for fifteen minutes
before eating it.
This time allows for the release
of an enzyme (allinase) that produces the anti-cancer