Grapes May Fight Cancer

Florida A&M University lab students are working diligently on critical research so that those with breast and throat cancer may have a better chance at survival.

At FAMU's Center For Viticulture and Small Fruit Research regular grapes are soon to become 'super grapes' through genetic enhancement, but not any old grape will do, seeds from muscadine grapes are what the researchers are most interested in.

"We have evaluated a bunch of muscadines and we used them for the lung cancer cell lines and breast cancer cell lines, which are estrogen dependent and non-estrogen dependent, we are finding significant decreases in the cancer activity levels," said FAMU Professor Dr. Mehboob Sheikh.

The new found value in muscadine grapes is also expected to help the agricultural economy, something grape-growing farmers can appreciate.

"In addition to the health value, this also increases the farmer's profits by increasing the value of this product," said Sheikh.

Students working alongside Dr. Sheikh say they're happy contributors to a promising science and hope to have these genetically-enhanced grapes available to those who need it in a few years.

"It's very challenging and we have a great team here and we work together. We are making significant progress where that is concerned," said FAMU graduate student Bravo Brown.

And soon enough Dr. Sheikh says a simple pill, spray or jelly made from the muscadine seeds could improve the quality of life for millions.