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Special form of nutrition slows tumor growth
Unfortunately, in today's society, cancer is a very common disease that costs many lives each year. Researchers have now found that a controlled diet that limits the intake of certain amino acids can be an effective additional treatment for some cancer patients.
In their study, scientists from the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute and the University of Glasgow found that a controlled diet without certain amino acids causes the development of tumors to slow down. The doctors published the results of the study in the journal "Nature".
Serine and glycine-free diets can support traditional cancer treatments
Removing two non-essential amino acids from the diet appears to help treat cancer. If serine and glycine were not in the diet of laboratory mice, the development of existing tumors slowed, the study authors explain. Such a special diet could make the traditional treatment of cancer more effective, the experts speculate.
Special diets make cancer cells for certain chemicals
The researchers also found that when mice are fed serine and glycine-free diets, the development of lymphoma and colon cancer is slowed down. The restricted form of nutrition also causes some cancer cells to become more susceptible to chemicals known as reactive oxygen species, the scientists explain. The same chemicals are also used in chemotherapy or radiation therapy. This effect indicates that the treatment of cancer patients through this type of diet could be more effective in killing cancer cells, the doctors add.
Amino acids are important for health and well-being
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. The authors of the study warn that people independently do without proteins in their diet. In general, human nutrition is very complex. Proteins are the main source of all amino acids. They are essential for our health and well-being, say the experts. For this reason, people should not simply prevent the absorption of special amino acids by consuming only a certain type of homemade diet, explains author Karen Vousden from Cancer Research UK.
Dietary changes should be done with the help of experts
The special type of restricted diet is a short-term measure and must be carefully checked by experts and doctors, the researchers explain. This is the only way to ensure safety when changing the diet.
Effects have to be examined more closely on people
The author also stated that the next important step is clinical trials to investigate the effects of a diet without the specific amino acids in more detail. In this way it can be determined whether this type of diet actually leads to slower tumor growth in humans, as it does in mice.
More research is needed
Developing a diet without the two amino acids is quite difficult, the researchers say. The special form of nutrition must first be tested on healthy people. This enables doctors to determine how well-tolerated such a diet is and how easy it is to maintain this type of diet over a longer period of time. The scientists also have to find out how this change in diet affects the levels of the two amino acids in the body.
Special nutrition is less effective with an activated Kras gene
Medical professionals also need to find out which patients are most likely to benefit from this type of diet. In their study, for example, the scientists found that a special diet was less effective for tumors if there was an activated so-called Kras gene, which was found in most people with pancreatic cancer.
A change in diet could save those affected from taking additional medication
The special diet seems to be a fairly safe and gentle way to complement conventional therapies, the scientists explain. In other words, you don't have to take more medication to treat the condition, says author Karen H. Vousden of Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in Glasgow. (as)