Singapore researchers claim that cancerous tumor growth can potentially be impeded by “starving” cancer cells of methionine, a nutrient commonly found in meat, fish and dairy products.
Researchers from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star ) and the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) discovered that cancer stem cells use an amino acid called methionine as fuel and are especially dependent on it.
The Singapore researchers articulate that cancer stem cells are responsible for tumor growth, but the bulk of the tumor is derived of non-stem cancer cells. The team uncovered that starving lung cancer cells of methionine for 48 hours resulted in “dramatic” 94% reduction in tumor size compared with a control sample reports the Straits Times.
Dr. Tan, the lead investigator, noted, “We are hoping that this approach of targeting the nutrient dependency of cancer stem cells can offer another way of treating lung cancer and other solid tumors.”
Korean Research on Methionine
Interestingly, in 2016 Korean researchers introduced this approach via a study as a possible adjuvant strategy in dealing with breast cancer. They introduced that nutrient deprivation strategies have been proposed as an adjuvant therapy for cancer cells due to their increased metabolic demand. They examined specific inhibitory effects of amino acid deprivation on the metastatic phenotypes of the human-triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) cell lines MDA-MB-231 and Hs 578T, as well as orthotopic 4T1 mouse TNBC tumor model. Among 10 amino acids tested, methionine deprivation elicited the strongest inhibitory effects on the migration and invasion of the cancer cells.
Dr. Daniel Tan, senior consultant, division of medical oncology, NCCS
Dr. Tam Wai Leong, Group Leader, precision oncology, Genome Institute of Singapore