Jewish World Review Dec. 30, 2003 / 5 Teves, 5764


Ohio medical student fights cold sores with veggies

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | (KRT) Just about anybody who hears of Terri Stoner's research on herpes wants her to say the same thing: "Eat broccoli, cabbage or Brussels sprouts, and your herpes will disappear."

If only it were that simple.

Stoner, a graduate student at Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, recently unveiled research showing that organic compounds found in broccoli and certain other vegetables can halt reproduction of the herpes virus.

The findings were released at last month's Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in Chicago, and generated brief, but breathless, attention on the Internet.

"Broccoli may stop herpes. Broccoli has been found to cure herpes!!" trumpeted a Web site dedicated to sexually transmitted diseases. "Eat broccoli and you could ward off herpes," began a story posted on numerous sites.

But it's too soon to make such proclamations, Stoner said. Her findings came in a laboratory, testing the compound - known as indole-3-carbinol, or I3C - on African green monkey kidney cells and human lung cells that had been infected with herpes. The compound was 99.9 percent effective in both cases.

Donate to JWR

Those were overwhelmingly positive results, she said, but results in a laboratory may be different from results in the real world.

"I cannot come out and say, `If you eat your broccoli…' That's not a known fact," Stoner said.

What is known, however, is that 50 percent to 80 percent of all adults in the United States carry the herpes simplex 1 virus, which primarily causes cold sores. The virus never leaves the body; it simply hibernates until something causes it to flare up in the form of painful sores.

The research found that I3C keeps herpes in hibernation. The compound is not a cure. It won't prevent anyone from contracting herpes. But it at least keeps the virus from flaring.

Whether it will work in humans is still unknown, said Stoner, a graduate of Copley High School and the University of Akron, who is working toward a Ph.D. in cellular/molecular biology.

Still, the findings are significant.

The research is similar to other herpes-related work out of NEOUCOM.

John Docherty, chairman of the school's department of microbiology and immunology, is working with a Canadian company to market a herpes treatment derived from resveratrol, a compound found in red wine and the skin of grapes.

Both I3C and resveratrol attack herpes unlike any other treatment. Instead of homing in on the virus, these two products target the cell to which the virus has attached itself. By shutting down the part of the cellular process that the virus needs to survive, the virus remains dormant.

"It's very new technology," Docherty said. "We didn't think we could do this before."

The same question comes up with both approaches: If these compounds work in the lab, why not just eat broccoli, or grapes, instead of waiting for these products to hit the market?

And the answer is the same for both.

"You'd never be able to eat the amount of broccoli, or grapes, to get the amount of chemical into your system," Docherty said.

Then again, there's certainly nothing wrong with getting more fruits and vegetables into your diet.

And that's about the most definitive statement Stoner can offer:

"Your grandmother and mother were right," she said. "Eat your vegetables."

Appreciate this column? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


Comment by clicking here.

Up

© 2003, Akron Beacon Journal Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services