Scientists have discovered a new and potent anti-cancer compound in everyday food. The collaborative study led by UCL (University College London) shows that the compound - inositol pentakisphosphate - found in beans, nuts and cereals inhibits a key enzyme (phosphoinositide 3-kinase) involved in tumour growth. The findings, published in the latest issue of Cancer Research, suggest that a diet enriched in such foods could help prevent cancer, while the inhibitor offers a new tool for anti-cancer therapy.
Phosphoinositide 3-kinase is a key player in the development and progression of human tumours. Scientists have been exploring phosphoinositide 3-kinase as a target for cancer treatment but inhibitors have been difficult to develop because of problems with the chemical stability and toxicity of the inhibiting substances. Now, a team of scientists led by Dr Marco Falasca of the UCL Sackler Institute have discovered that a natural compound, inositol pentakisphosphate, inhibits the activity of the enzyme, suggesting it could be used to develop new treatments for cancer.
In the study, the compound was tested in mouse models and on cancer cells. Not only was it found to inhibit the growth of tumours in mice, but the phosphate also enhanced the effect of cytotoxic drugs in ovarian and lung cancer cells. The findings suggest that inositol pentakisphosphate could be used to sensitize cancer cells to the action of commonly used anti-cancer drugs.
Jenny Gimpel | EurekAlert!
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