Researchers solving treatment resistance in most common breast cancer

Diet may help halt breast cancer spread Study

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.

Slashing intake of asparagine - a nutrient found in these foods - reduced the invading power of diseased cells in mice.

Tests on mice found cutting the intake of asparagine in the diet reduced the ability of cancer to spread, or metastasize.

In future, the scientists believe that alongside conventional treatments like chemotherapy, breast cancer patients could be given a diet in hospital that restricts asparagine to help stop the disease spreading and improve outcomes.

Lead author Professor Greg Hannon from the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, said: 'Our work has pinpointed one of the key mechanisms that promotes the ability of breast cancer cells to spread.

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In several other cancer types, increased ability of tumour cells to make asparagine was also found to be associated with reduced survival.

Reducing the amount of asparagine in the mice reduced the spread of cancer but had no impact on the development of their primary tumour, the journal Nature reports. The same was seen in cancers of the head, neck and kidney.

"This study may have implications not only for breast cancer, but for many metastatic cancers", said Ravi Thadhani, MD, MPH, vice dean of Research and Graduate Research Education at Cedars-Sinai.

Dr George Poulogiannis, Dr Michel Wagner and PhD student Marc Olivier Turgeon worked on the research that took place at the ICR.

Professor Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, stated: "Interestlingly, the drug L-asparaginase is used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which is dependent on asparagine".

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

"The next step in the research would be to understand how this translates from the lab to patients and which patients are most likely to benefit from any potential treatment".

Prof Keqiang Ye, a cancer researcher at Emory University in Atlanta, said that lowering asparagine levels, either with drugs or dietary restriction, would help prevent cancer cells from spreading.

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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