UCL News


Beans beat cancer

16 September 2005

A team of scientists led by Dr Marco Falasca (UCL Sackler Institute for Musculo-skeletal Research) has discovered that a potent anti-cancer compound found in beans, nuts and cereals inhibits a key enzyme - phosphoinositide 3-kinase - involved in tumour growth.

The findings, published in the latest issue of 'Cancer Research', suggest that a diet enriched in such foods could help prevent cancer, while the inhibitor offers a new tool for anti-cancer therapy.

Inositol pentakisphosphate is a non-toxic, water-soluble compound found in most legumes such as lentils, peas and beans, and in wheat bran and nuts. These properties make the compound a promising therapeutic agent since conventional chemotherapy agents can be toxic to different degrees, whereas in the study, the inositol phosphate agent was found to be non-toxic, even at higher concentrations.

Dr Falasca said: "Our study suggests the importance of a diet enriched in food such as beans, nuts and cereals which could help prevent cancer. Our work will now focus on establishing whether the phosphate inhibitor can be developed into an anti-cancer agent for human therapy. We believe that inositol pentakisphosphate is a promising anti-cancer tool and we hope to bring it to clinical testing soon."

Link: Full press release