In a mouse study, a new way to “attract” the treatment of cancer was discovered by eliminating the amino acids in the patient’s diet from meat, fish and eggs
- Serine is an additional protein building block required by cancer cells
- Therefore, reducing amino acid levels may inhibit tumor growth
- However, many cancer cells can produce their own serine
- British experts proposed a dual therapy, using a drug to stop the production of serine
- In a mouse model of bowel cancer, their diet and drug combination slowed the growth of tumors
- However, they said that more research is needed before it can be used on human patients
Diets low in serine, low in amino acids in meat, fish, and eggs (used in combination with drugs to stop their production) may provide a new approach to cancer treatment.
As cancer cells become more aggressive, cancer cells rely more on serine (a protein building block) than healthy cells, which indicates a potential weakness.
Previous studies in mouse and human cells have shown that lowering serine levels can slow tumor growth-but many cancer cells are able to make themselves.
In fact, 30% of all patients have found “KRAS mutations” that allow tumors to produce serine, which is common in difficult-to-treat colon and pancreatic cancers.
However, British researchers showed that in mice containing human bowel cancer cell transplants, a low-serine diet and PH755 drugs slowed the growth of tumors.
They report that it is encouraging that PH755 causes almost no side effects in animals-a two-pronged approach may be used to combat many types of cancer.
However, before recommending this treatment to cancer patients, further studies and safety tests on human cells are needed.
A low-serine diet, the amino acids in meat, fish and eggs (pictured) (used in combination with drugs to stop their production) may provide a new method for cancer treatment
Before testing the dual method in a mouse model, the research team saw promising results in cell cultures in the laboratory and so-called organoid-3D tumor models (designed to simulate the complexity of real organs).
Cancer biologist Karen Vousden said: “Based on the understanding of how nutrient changes affect tumors, the idea of being able to formulate dietary interventions may open up effective ways to treat cancer.”
The Chief Scientist of Cancer Research UK added: “In the future, this may provide the basis for the development of a precise diet therapy as a cancer therapy, just like we use targeted drugs.”
Personalizing each person’s diet to meet the nutritional needs of cancer can be combined with other therapies to provide people with the best opportunity to cope with treatment.
Martin Ledwick, Chief Information Nurse for Cancer Research UK, said: “Although it is encouraging to see the potential for targeting cancer nutritional needs, it is important to remember that this is an early study of mice and cells.”
He warned that people with cancer should not change their diets.
“We need to check whether this work will translate into human cancer, and then test to see if eating habits help.”
Michelle Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer of Cancer Research UK, said: “Understanding the basic biology of cancer through such research is essential to reveal the true complexity of this disease and can reveal new treatment avenues.”
This research gave us a fascinating impression of how to get rid of cancer’s dietary dependence, and we look forward to seeing whether this method is effective for people.
The full results of this research are published in the journal Nature Communications.
Symptoms of bowel cancer
Bowel cancer or colorectal cancer affects the large intestine, which is made up of the colon and rectum.
Such tumors usually develop from precancerous growths (called polyps).
- Bleeding from the bottom
- Blood in stool
- Changes in bowel habits last at least three weeks
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme, unexplainable fatigue
- stomach ache
In most cases, there is no clear reason, but people are at greater risk if the following conditions are met:
- Over 50
- Have a family history of the disease
- Personal history of polyps in the intestine
- Suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease
- Lead an unhealthy lifestyle
Treatment usually includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Ten out of ten people diagnosed with first stage bowel cancer have survived five years or more after the age of nine.
If diagnosis is made in a later stage, this will be greatly reduced.
According to Bowel Cancer UK data, more than 41,200 people in the UK are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year.
According to the National Cancer Institute, in the United States, approximately 40 out of every 100,000 adults are affected each year.