Researchers at University of Tokyo Discover New Anticancer Compound in Broccoli

While studying the immunotherapeutic properties of various functional foods, researchers at the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Medicine have identified a unique phytochemical compound produced in trace amounts within the broccoli vegetable.

Further research has indicated that this phytochemical, called brolico, acts as a potent stimulator for important innate immune system cells, such as NK cells and neutrophils, tasked with front-line defense of the body.

Results from the research that though the amount of the compound contained within a single serving of broccoli is not large enough to facilitate bioavailability, if the brolico phytochemical is extracted in a manner which produces concentrated volumes of the compound, consumption of this extracted form can produce higher levels of immune cell activation.

NK cells are a type of white blood cell created in the bone marrow of the lymphatic system. Their primary function is to identify and eliminate tumor cells and virally-infected cells by releasing lethal membrane-toxic proteins designed to induce lysis (death) of the targeted cell. Unlike other immune cells, NK cells are equipped with specialized receptors which allow them to immediately distinguish between tumor cells and healthy cells, enabling them to directly induce the death of a tumor cell, without damaging any of the healthy tissue surrounding it.

Speaking to the NK cell activation effects of the brolico compound, Dr. Hiroki Kinoshita, a research partner in the study, stated “it’s a very exciting discovery, and we are just at the beginning of understanding what it can mean for people who are fighting cancer, or want to prevent cancer. We know that NK cells are some of the most important cells in the immune system, but just like everything else, these cells decrease with age. Just think of the difference it could make if we found a natural source to counteract that, and keep these cells active throughout a person’s entire lifetime.”

Dr. Yoshinobu Abe, President of Shonan Medical Clinic Shinjuku, which specializes in cancer immunotherapy, has expressed confidence in the reported effects of the brolico phytochemical and its implications for advancing the field of immunotherapy. As such, he has indicated that he has…

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