Omega-3, the fatty acid found in oily fish, could be combined with a commonly used anesthetic to develop drugs to treat breast cancer, according to research published today in the journal Breast Cancer Research. Compounds of Omega-3 fatty acids and propofol reduce the ability of breast cancer cells to develop into malignant tumours, inhibiting cancer cell migration by 50% and significantly reducing their metastatic activity. These new compounds could be developed into a new family of anti-cancer drugs.
Dr Rafat Siddiqui, from the Methodist Research Institute and Indiana University in Indianapolis, and his colleagues studied the effect of two Omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), combined with propofol on a breast cancer cell line in vitro. Omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA have a minimal effect on cancer cells when applied alone. Propofol is a potent anti-oxidant known to inhibit cancer cell migration by only 5-10%.
The results of the study show that propofol and DHA or EPA have a much more significant effect on cancer cells when used in combination, as conjugates, than when used alone. The conjugates inhibit cancer cell adhesion by 15% and 30% respectively, reduce cell migration by 50% and increase apoptosis by 40%.
Juliette Savin | EurekAlert!
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