New Findings on Nutrition and Colon Cancer

In a new study, researchers from the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology demonstrated the health benefits of red seaweed. Two sugars contained in red seaweed manifested prebiotic activity in-vitro. Additionally, the authors found that one of those sugar, 3,6-anhydro-l-galactose, had properties able to fight colon cancer in-vitro. Those preliminary findings may help explain why Japan has the lowest incidence of colon cancer. The study was published in Marine Drugs

A recent study by oncologists from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute identified how red meat consumption affects DNA.. From observational studies, it has been known that a correlation existed between consuming red meat and colon cancer, but the biological mechanisms were not understood. The authors discovered that some compounds found in red meat caused alkylation, a type of DNA damage. This study is a crucial step in understanding why high consumption of red meat increases the risk of colon cancer. The study was published in Cancer Discovery.

A Vaccine as an Immunotherapy Booster, Tumor’s Impact on Healthy Tissue Metabolism and More

  • An animal study conducted by an international team of scientists led by researchers from the University of Konstanz in Germany demonstrated that combining a new cancer vaccine with an immune checkpoint inhibitor can dramatically increase the response to therapy rate. The new vaccine is a microparticle-based cancer vaccine, which uses the immunostimulant Riboxxim that has been already approved for application in humans. Combining a cancer vaccine with established drugs creates a foundation for human trials and, eventually, for improving the efficacy of immunotherapies in humans. The study was published in Nature Communications.
  • Researchers from the Washington University in St. Louis conducted an animal study that revealed the impact of melanoma on the metabolism in tissues outside of the tumor. While most of the previous research on cancer metabolism concentrated on the tumor metabolism itself, this study looked at the relationship of the tumor with metabolism in non-malignant tissues. It demonstrated that cancers affect metabolic processes in healthy tissue elsewhere in the body and that, at least in some instances, these metabolic changes take place to support the tumor. The study authors hope that their findings would lead to targeting the metabolism of healthy tissues as a potential treatment for cancer. The study was published in Cell Metabolism.
  • A study by the researchers at UVA Cancer Center shed new light on the intercellular interactions of androgen hormones and their receptors. The study offers new insight into the mechanism of androgen-regulated communication within prostate cancer cells. Its findings could be instrumental for perfecting anti-androgen therapies that are at the core of prostate cancer treatment.  The study was also published in Nature Communications.
  • In an animal glioblastoma study, scientists from the Massachusetts General Hospital reprogrammed the host’s immune cells called regulatory T-cells (Tregs) manipulated and hijacked by cancer to assist in its growth and turned them back into cancer killers. It remains to be seen whether this success can be translated into treating humans, and further testing is necessary. This study was also published in Nature Communications.
  • A recent meta-analysis of 17 observational studies found an association between higher mushroom consumption and decreased cancer risk. While observational studies typically only help establish a correlation between the exposure and the outcomes but not prove causation, this meta-analysis, published in Advances in Nutrition, may boost further research into the protective effects of mushrooms and their potential for cancer prevention.
  • Researchers from Brazil and the U.S. developed a low-dose four-drug combination to help prevent metastasizing of cancer by simultaneously targeting multiple pathways in the metastasis-promoting network without triggering drug resistance. The authors hope that their findings, challenging current cancer treatment approaches, “could lead to a new cancer treatment strategy where patients first receive low-dose combination drugs that block metastasis and then receive traditional cancer treatments such as radiation, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy.” This animal study was published in eLife.

Prolactin in Breast Cancer Development, Dietary Methionine in Oncogenesis and More

  • Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University conducted studies that shed new light on the role of the hormone prolactin. While prolactin has been known for its role in breast development and milk production in pregnancy, this new research established that it also plays an important part in breast cancer development. This finding may lay the foundation for creating new targeted drug therapies to treat breast cancer. The study was published in NPJ Breast Cancer.
  • Two researchers from Germany conducted a study revealing a new understanding of the activation mechanism of a cell growth protein SHP2. The excessive activity of this protein stimulates increased cell proliferation thus triggering cancers such as leukemia. Knowing the mechanism of activation of this protein is crucial for designing therapeutic strategies to inhibit this protein. The study proves wrong the prior understanding of this mechanism. The new insight paves the way for developing new targeted therapies to prevent excessive cell proliferation caused by this protein. The study was published in PNAS.
  • A researcher from the Purdue University found a way to synthesize a compound that can fight a protein involved in multiple cancers, including breast, brain, colorectal, prostate, lung, and liver cancers. The protein, called BRAT1, was previously considered unsuitable as a drug target because of its chemical properties. The compound, Curcusone D, which belongs to a Curcusone family of compounds and originally came from a shrub named Jatropha curca, can now be synthesized in a lab. The compound kills cancer cells and can keep cancer from metastasizing. As Curcusone D compound is very hard to extract from the plant and since it is the only compound that can inhibit BRAT1 protein, synthesizing it in a lab is a very important discovery. Pending some toxicity studies, this compound could be a significant addition to the therapeutics against cancer. This research was reported in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
  • A group of scientists from Japan conducted a study on how cell proliferation (oncogenesis) and cell death were regulated, focusing on genes p38, JNK, and slpr. Based on the knowledge that dietary nutrients can control p38, the study was done on fruit flies. Researchers manipulated the amount of dietary amino acid methionine and established that decreasing the amount of the methionine in the diet prevented p38-controlled oncogenesis. One of the study findings was that the oncogene slpr could mediate the signaling pathways controlled by other oncogenes. The researchers hope that their findings can be translated to human cancers and help explain how they develop. The study was published in eLIfe.