The results of newly reported studies in mice and humans suggest that restricting blood glucose levels through diet or by using existing drugs may help to increase the effectiveness of current treatments for multiple types of cancer. An international team of scientists headed by researchers at the University of Texas (UT) at Dallas found that feeding mice a very low sugar, ketogenic diet, and giving the animals an existing anti-diabetic diabetes drug slowed the progression of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) lung tumors. The anticancer effects were specific to SCCs, and glucose-restrictive measures had no effect on non-SCC-type tumors including adenocarcinomas.
The team, including researchers across the United States, and in Korea and Japan, also found a strong link between blood glucose levels and survival in human patients with SCCs specifically, which “further implicates the potential efficacy of glucose restriction in attenuating squamous cell cancer growth,” commented Jung-Whan “Jay” Kim, PhD, an assistant professor of biological sciences at UT Dallas. “The key finding of our new study in mice is that a ketogenic diet alone does have some tumor-growth inhibitory effect in squamous cell cancer. When we combined this with the diabetes drug and chemotherapy, it was even more effective.”
Kim is corresponding author of the researchers’ published paper in Cell Reports, which is titled, ” p63 and SOX2 Dictate Glucose Reliance and Metabolic Vulnerabilities in Squamous Cell Carcinomas.”
There are relatively few therapeutic options for squamous cell tumors, and the newer, targeted molecular therapies are generally not proving effective for this type of cancer. “SCC is a major class of malignancy arising from squamous cells of the epithelia and is responsible for more than one million cancer deaths annually worldwide,” the authors wrote. ” … decades old platinum-based chemotherapy or radiation regimens still remain the first-line treatment options and thus, retain limited specificity to the unique characteristics of SCC.”
Scientists suspect that many different types of cancer may be heavily dependent on glucose as their energy supply, and prior laboratory studies by Kim’s researchers had demonstrated that SCCs, in particular, may be more dependent on glucose than are other cancer types, such as adenocarcinomas. Interestingly, most SCCs share common genetic alterations, including amplification of chromosome 3q, which contains key transcription regulators p63 and SOX2. Collective research indicates that these transcription factors may cooperate to promote SCC, “the reliance on which may present a targetable vulnerability,” the investigators stated.
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Source:: Daily Times