MAR 31, 2015 11:48 AM PDT
Fasting, Less-Toxic Cancer Drug May Work as Well as Chemotherapy
WRITTEN BY: Ilene Schneider
3 60 9649
Fasting in combination with chemotherapy has already been shown to kill cancer cells, but a pair of new studies in mice suggests that a less-toxic class of drugs combined with fasting may kill breast, colorectal and lung cancer cells equally well.
A low-toxicity drug combined with fasting, or a diet that mimics the effects of fasting, could be an alternative to chemotherapy.
If shown to work in humans, this combination could replace chemotherapy and make fasting a potent component of a long-term strategy to treat cancer, according to senior author Valter Longo of USC.

Human clinical trials in the United States and Europe are already studying the effectiveness and safety of Longo's strategy of cyclic fasting during cancer treatment.

Published by the journal Oncotarget on March 30, the studies suggest that a low-toxicity drug combined with fasting, or a diet that mimics the effects of fasting, could be an alternative to chemotherapy. The studies are part of a multinational collaboration with the laboratories of Alessio Nencioni at University of Genova and of Lizzia Raffaghello at the G. Gaslini Institute in Italy.

"Like every other cell, cancer cells need energy to survive and keep growing. But cancer cells are fairly inflexible about how they produce that energy, which gives us a way to target them," said Longo, Edna M. Jones Professor of Biogerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute. Longo has a joint appointment at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Cancer cells rely heavily on glucose (sugar) from food for energy-they're on overdrive, burning much more glucose than a regular cell to fuel their rapid growth. The phenomenon is called the Warburg effect, named after the German physician who first described it nearly 100 years ago. As such, cancer cells are much more vulnerable to any interruption in supply.

Deprived of glucose, cancer cells rely on an emergency backup-using a type of enzyme called a kinase to continue their growth-related activities.

Longo and his team and collaborators discovered that this metabolic shift by cancer cells causes them to generate toxic-free radicals, which ultimately kills them. In addition, the kinase pathway for generating energy can be blocked by kinase inhibitors, further choking off cancer cells' ability to generate energy. Kinase inhibitors are already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a cancer treatment, opening the door to using them and fasting as a one-two punch to knock out cancer.

"However, kinase inhibitors, though much less toxic than chemotherapy, can still be toxic to many cell types. Fasting makes them more effective, meaning that patients would have to use them for less time to achieve the same results," Longo said. "Although we have not yet tested this, we anticipate that fasting will also reduce the toxicity of kinase inhibitors as it reduces that of chemotherapy to normal cells."

Source: University of Southern California
About the Author
  • Ilene Schneider is the owner of Schneider the Writer, a firm that provides communications for health care, high technology and service enterprises. Her specialties include public relations, media relations, advertising, journalistic writing, editing, grant writing and corporate creativity consulting services. Prior to starting her own business in 1985, Ilene was editor of the Cleveland edition of TV Guide, associate editor of School Product News (Penton Publishing) and senior public relations representative at Beckman Instruments, Inc. She was profiled in a book, How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Writing Business and listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Advertising and Who's Who in Media and Communications. She was the recipient of the Women in Communications, Inc. Clarion Award in advertising. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Ilene and her family have lived in Irvine, California, since 1978.
You May Also Like
FEB 26, 2018
Immunology
FEB 26, 2018
Rare Immune Cells Prevent Cancer from Spreading
Cancer metastasis, the spreading of tumors to different tissues in the body, is usually what makes cancer so lethal and difficult to treat. But scientists
APR 14, 2018
Immunology
APR 14, 2018
A Vaccine for When Cancer Forms from Human Retroviruses
A vaccine to prevent leukemia and other diseases of the immune system caused by a specific viral infection is now a very real idea. A new study from Kyoto
MAY 10, 2018
Immunology
MAY 10, 2018
New Biomarker for Lung Cancer Diagnosis
Lung cancer is the most common cause of death from cancer for both genders and for people all over the globe. This is largely due to the lack of diagnostic
MAY 30, 2018
Cannabis Sciences
MAY 30, 2018
Cannabinoid Receptor Role in Inhibition of Renal Cell Carcinoma
Researchers investigated the potential connections between the endocannabinoid system and tumor cell growth inhibition in renal cell carcinoma.
JUN 16, 2018
Clinical & Molecular DX
JUN 16, 2018
Nanoparticles Deliver "Theranostics" for Cancer Patients
New technology combing therapeutic agents and diagnostics (theranostics) can be used to deliver drugs to cancer cells. From the Moscow Institute of Physics
JUN 19, 2018
Cancer
JUN 19, 2018
Cancer-Related Cognitive Impairment aka "ChemoBrain" Needs YOU!
There is a need for neuroscientists to investigate what is known as chemobrain; survivors and providers are looking for ideas for approaches to mitigating this late effect chemo related issue
Loading Comments...