Resveratrol (image) and quercetin, two polyphenols that have been widely studied for their health properties, may soon become the basis of an important new advance in cancer treatment, primarily by improving the efficacy and potential use of an existing chemotherapeutic cancer drug. Resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant found in red wine and other foods, has already received much attention as a possible explanation for the "French paradox," a low incidence of cardiovascular disease despite a diet often high in fats. The new research suggests that resveratrol may soon have value far beyond that. In laboratory experiments, researchers at Oregon State University have developed a system to increase the bioavailability of these compounds in the body by using "copolymers" that make the compounds water soluble and allow their injection into the blood stream, creating levels that are far higher than could ever be obtained by diet or oral intake. The resveratrol and quercetin then appear to reduce the cardiac toxicity of a very widely used cancer drug, Adriamycin (doxorubicin). Although highly effective in the treatment of lymphomas, breast, ovarian, and other cancers, Adriamycin can only be used for a limited time in humans because of its cardiotoxicity. The co-administration of these polyphenols might allow much more extensive use of this drug, while at the same time improving its efficacy and demonstrating the polyphenols' own anti-cancer properties, scientists said. This research has been published online by the Journal of Controlled Release and will appear in the September 10, 2015 print issue of this journal. The authors are scientists from the College of Pharmacy at Oregon State University (OSU) and the School of Pharmacy at Pacific University. Both institutions supported the research.
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