As the incidence of breast cancer among women is on an alarming increase, a number of studies are taking place in order to find means of curbing the disease and growth of tumor. According to latest studies, one of the most effective ways of controlling the spread of cancer is to starve the cells of food. Breast cancer cells use the food delivery system of the body to feed and grow. If this delivery system can be blocked, then the cancer cells can be killed.This is a new find by the researchers of Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Georgia Health Sciences University. Chairman of the department, Dr. Vadivel Ganapathy said that such a method of treatment can be a very effective way of treating cancer in patients who do not respond well to conventional treatments of chemotherapy and drugs such as tamoxifen. The research has revealed that cancer cells died when mice transplanted with cancer cells were administered a drug that blocks food channels to the tumor. SLC6A14 is a food transporter that is mostly targeted by cancer cells.
According to Dr. Ganapathy, the drug prohibits food access to the tumor and hence starves it. Cancer cells require proteins to grow and survive. Proteins are accessed through the food transporting agents in the body. Out of the twenty known amino acids that are required for cell growth, the food transporter carries 18. SLC6A14 is a transporter that delivers 10 types of amino acids in the body. The other eight amino acids are non essential. In addition, research has also found that this particular transporter works at a rapid speed.
The research also found that the transporter SLC6A14, which is the most effective transporter, is not used by the body to its full potential. This is a puzzling behavior since the transporter is highly efficient in transporting food to all parts of the body and to every cell. The expression of the food transporter in the body is very low. This is seen to be a natural body defense mechanism against cancer cells. Healthy cells are not dependent on this SLC6A14 and hence, controlling their activity will not affect healthy cells.
Researchers used alpha-methyl-DL-tryptophan to inhibit the transporter. The drug was administered to the mice orally. It was observed that the growth of tumor regressed considerably, which is a big step forward in the research. Gradually, cancer cells died. Researchers also found that the use of this drug only affected SLC6A14 transporter and left the others alone, thus preventing the entire body from starvation.