Scientists have discovered that by removing certain amino acids from the diet of rodents with a deadly form of brain cancer called glioblastoma, their malignant cells begin to die through a process called ferroptosis. Additionally, the drugs had a greater effect on mice fed restrictive diets. These findings can be a potential source for research on fight cancer become in humans.
Cell death is one of the natural functions of our body. Normally, through a process called apoptosis, cells that are abnormal or no longer needed are destroyed and reabsorbed. However, this process can not be done in cancer cells, so it is more difficult for our body to get rid of them, which causes the cells to multiply and put our health at serious risk. Ferroptosis is another recently discovered type of cell death in which iron plays an important role.
New findings of scientists about brain cancer
In their new study, researchers from the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine (UNC) and Columbia University found that glioblastoma brain cancer cells are particularly susceptible to death through ferroptosis.
In their study, they fed mice a diet that restricted cysteine and methionine, two sulfur amino acids. By doing so, the scientists discovered that the diet made the glioblastoma cells more susceptible to death by ferroptosis. In addition, the mentioned diet causes these cells to be more exposed to chemotherapy drugs.
Because glioblastoma has a 100 percent mortality rate and there is still no known cure, the scientists’ findings are of great importance. Also, this cancer has a very fast growth rate and the average survival period is only 16 months.
It is not yet clear whether humans with glioblastoma can also use this diet to cure their cancer, but Dominic Higgins, the lead researcher of the study, plans to find out in the future. “Now we have to find a way to remove those components (cysteine and methionine) from the nutritional requirements while maintaining the energy needs of a patient, especially a cancer patient who has different needs than other patients,” he says.