Published: Thu, February 08, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Food protein linked to cancer spread

Food protein linked to cancer spread

University of Cambridge academic Gregory Hannon conducted tests involving laboratory mice alongside a team of global cancer researchers and found that lowering the consumption of asparagine stopped the spread of triple-negative breast cancer, News.com.au reports.

A single protein building block commonly found in food may hold a key to preventing the spread of an often-deadly type of breast cancer, according to a new multicenter study published today in the medical journal Nature.

Scientists at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute showed that breast tumours struggle to grow and spread when they do not have access to the amino acid asparagine, which is found in asparagus, seafood, french fries, potato chips and toasted bread.

"In the future, restricting this amino acid through a controlled diet plan or by other means could be an additional part of treatment for some patients with breast and other cancers". The next step would involve a clinical trial with cancer patients.

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"This finding adds vital information to our understanding of how we can stop cancer spreading - the main reason patients die from their disease".

The global team of cancer specialists from Britain, the USA, and Canada studied mice with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

This may be the first time that a change in diet has been linked to a biological process that promotes cancer spread, the researchers said.

Reference Simon R.V. Knott, Elvin Wagenblast, Showkhin Khan, Sun Y. Kim, Mar Soto, Michel Wagner, Marc-Olivier Turgeon, Lisa Fish, Nicolas Erard, Annika L. Gable, Ashley R. Maceli, Steffen Dickopf, Evangelia K. Papachristou, Clive S. D'Santos, Lisa A. Carey, John E. Wilkinson, J. Chuck Harrell, Charles M. Perou, Hani Goodarzi, George Poulogiannis, Gregory J. Hannon.

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The researchers also found that metastasis was greatly limited by reducing asparagine synthetase, treatment with the chemotherapy drug L-asparaginase, or dietary restriction.

They said their findings could also have implications for other cancer types, including kidney, and head and neck cancers.

Interesting, the drug L-asparaginase is already used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, which is dependent on asparagine.

Breast cancer experts do not recommend patients totally exclude any specific food group from their diet without speaking to their doctors.

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But Martin Ledwick, from Cancer Research UK, said: "At the moment, there is no evidence that restricting certain foods can help fight cancer".

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