Restricting certain amino acids in diet could treat cancer

Indo Asian News Service

London, April 20 (IANS) Restricting the intake of certain amino acids -- the building blocks of proteins -- could help treat cancer, new research has found.

The study, published online in the journal Nature, showed that removing two non-essential amino acids -- serine and glycine -- from the diet of mice slowed the development of lymphoma and intestinal cancer.

"Our findings suggest that restricting specific amino acids through a controlled diet plan could be an additional part of treatment for some cancer patients in future, helping to make other treatments more effective," said Oliver Maddocks from the University of Glasgow in Britain.

The researchers warned that amino acids are vital for our health and that patients must not try to follow a do-it yourself diet in order to restrict growth of tumour.

"This kind of restricted diet would be a short term measure and must be carefully controlled and monitored by doctors for safety," said co-author Karen Vousden, scientist at Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in Glasgow.

"Our diet is complex and protein -- the main source of all amino acids - is vital for our health and well-being. This means that patients cannot safely cut out these specific amino acids simply by following some form of home-made diet," Vousden said.

The researchers also found that the special diet made some cancer cells more susceptible to chemicals in cells called reactive oxygen species.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy boost levels of these chemicals in the cells, so this research suggests a specially formulated diet could make conventional cancer treatments more effective.

The next stage would be to set up clinical trials with cancer patients to assess the feasibility and safety of such a treatment, the researchers said.