Researchers have found that a molecule - resveratrol - found in grape skin, seeds and red wine can protect against lung cancer.
Lung cancer is the deadliest form of the disease in the world and 80 per cent of deaths are related to smoking. In addition to tobacco control, effective chemo-prevention strategies are therefore needed.
In experiments in mice, the researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) prevented lung cancer induced by a carcinogen found in cigarette smoke by using resveratrol.
"We observed a 45 per cent decrease in tumour load per mouse in the treated mice. They developed fewer tumours and of smaller size than untreated mice," said Muriel Cuendet, associate professor at the varsity.
The team conducted their 26-week study on four groups of mice. The first one - the control - received neither carcinogen nor resveratrol treatment. The second received only the carcinogen. The third received both the carcinogen and the treatment, whereas the fourth received only the treatment.
When comparing the two groups that were not exposed to carcinogen, 63 per cent of the mice treated did not develop cancer, compared to only 12.5 per cent of the untreated mice.
"Resveratrol could, therefore, play a preventive role against lung cancer," Cuendet added.
This formulation is applicable to humans, the researchers noted.
However, when ingested, resveratrol did not prevent lung cancer as it is metabolised and eliminated within minutes. It does not have time to reach the lungs.
Conversely, when the molecule was administered through the nasal route, it as found to be much effective and allows the compound to reach the lungs.
The resveratrol concentration obtained in the lungs after nasal administration of the formulation was 22 times higher than when taken orally, the researchers said.