A supplement made from grape seeds can destroy leukaemia cells, according to scientists at the University of Kentucky in Philadelphia.
In laboratory experiments, grapeseed extract forced the cancer cells to self-destruct. Within 24 hours, 76 per cent of leukaemia cells exposed to the extract died through a process called apoptosis. Healthy cells were unharmed. The researchers believe the discovery could lead to promising new treatments, but warned it was too early to justify recommending that people take grapeseed extract to stave off cancer.
Grape seeds contain a number of antioxidant plant chemicals including resveratrol, which is known to have anti-cancer properties.
Professor Xianglin Shi, who led the research, published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, said: "These results could have implications for the incorporation of agents such as grapeseed extract into prevention or treatment of haematological [blood] malignancies. What everyone seeks is an agent that has an effect on cancer cells but leaves normal cells alone, and this shows that grapeseed extract fits into this category."