Medicine

HealthWatch: Amino Acid Fuels Aggressive Form of Breast Cancer

HealthWatch: Amino Acid Fuels Aggressive Form of Breast Cancer

The study has been performed on mice diagnosed with a severe breast cancer.

One expert said an existing drug now used to treat a type of asparagine-dependent leukaemia could be repurposed to help treat breast cancer patients.

- Scientists have uncovered a key mechanism that facilitates the spread of breast cancer cells, and thus a potential target for new therapeutic approaches in the fight against the disease, PharmaTimes reports. The growth of their tumors had slowed dramatically. L-asparaginase acts by inhibiting the production of the amino acid asparagine in the body.

Mice with intensive forms of breast cancer which would have seen them die within weeks were given low-asparagine diets or else were treated with drugs that blocked the absorption of the nutrient. This double approach resulted in a reduction of breast cancer tumor metastases in the mice. Altering the diet to fit in the cancer profile could thus help reduce the spread of the cancer and its growth, he explained.

Among the candidate metastatic drivers evaluated in the study, one stood out: the level of asparagine synthetase expression in a primary tumor.

But when the mice were give a diet low in asparagine or drugs to block the nutrient, the tumour struggled to expand. Using L-asparaginase to actively treat aggressive breast cancer is not the only thing that was established by this Cambridge research team during this trail.

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Amino acids are used by cells to make proteins.

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

At this stage, it's important to remember that human trials have not yet been conducted, so if you do have cancer, you shouldn't restrict your own diet until the evidence suggests you should.

For this objective, Prof.

"We'd also encourage all patients to follow a healthy and varied diet".

Cancer Research UK's chief clinician Charles Swanton said that further research is required to check whether the findings can be applied in a real-life scenario. Other specific examples of food with high levels of asparagine include eggs, potatoes, nuts, and soy, while fruits and vegetables have low levels of the amino acid.


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