Scientists discover way to halt breast cancer spread

Scientists discover way to halt breast cancer spread

Scientists discover way to halt breast cancer spread

University of Cambridge academic Gregory Hannon conducted tests involving laboratory mice alongside a team of worldwide cancer researchers and found that lowering the consumption of asparagine stopped the spread of triple-negative breast cancer, News.com.au reports.

Other foods containing the protein building block include beef, poultry, eggs, fish, beans, nuts, seeds, soy and whole grains.

Scientists have uncovered a key mechanism that facilitates the spread of breast cancer cells, and thus a potential target for new therapeutic approaches in the fight against the disease.

Researchers have discovered a link between the spread of cancer with an amino acid found in a number of different foods including asparagus.

It means breast cancer patients may be advised to try an extreme diet of certain fruit and vegetables - or asparagine-lowering drugs - on top of traditional treatments in an effort to prevent the disease from metastasizing. To cite an example for some early stage breast cancer patients, surgery might be the first stepping stone but that may not be the choice for the stage 4 breast cancer. When the availability of asparagine was reduced, we saw little impact on the primary tumour in the breast, but tumour cells had reduced capacity for metastases (spread) in other parts of the body.

The worldwide team of cancer specialists from Britain, the U.S., and Canada studied mice with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

This work relied on the team's expertise in analysing the metabolic processes that take place in cancer cells.


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

How did researchers stop it from spreading?

Studying the effects of asparagine could also alter treatments for other types of cancer, Ravi Thadhani at Cedars-Sinai Hospital said.

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

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

According to Lee, genetic analysis will soon be the dominant field of ER-positive breast cancer research, eventually leading to improved treatments and patient outcomes.

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