New Purple Tomato Could Help Fight Cancer

Photo By Andrew Davis, John Innes CentrePhoto By Andrew Davis, John Innes Centre

Researchers at the John Innes Centre in Norwich have created a genetically modified purple tomato that could be used to help fight cancer.

These tomatoes combine genes from the snapdragon flower, which contains an antioxidant pigment called anthocyanin that has been known to have anti-cancer properties.

Researchers are already aware of the health benefits of anthocyanins, which appear higher in some edible plants, but also seem to think that some of the more commonly consumed fruits and vegetables were not high enough to give the best health benefits.

Professor Cathie Martin from the John Innes Centre stated, “Most people do not eat 5 portions of fruits and vegetables a day, but they can get more benefit from those they do eat if common fruit and veg can be developed that are higher in bioactive compounds.”

Tomatoes contain two helpful antioxidants, lycopene and flavonoids, which also offer protection against disease.

After creating the purple tomato, researchers decided to test them out on mice which were prone to developing cancer. They found that mice who consumed the purple tomatoes lived longer and were more likely to fight off the disease.

The researchers state that the tomatoes would have to go through years of tests and processes in order to one day end up in supermarkets. However, the next step in their research would be to test the tomatoes on human volunteers.

This study was published in Nature Biotechnology on October 26, 2008.


Sources: Nature Biotechnology, MedicalNewsToday