A fatty acid from milk and beef attacked various kinds of cancerous cells in a number of laboratory and animal tests.
A nutrient in milk and beef may be able to target multiple cancer types by stimulating immune cells that fight tumours. This indicates that the substance may be used to complement current cancer treatments with more research.
In a number of lab and animal experiments, trans-vaccenic acid (TVA), a long-chain fatty acid present in the meat and dairy products of grazing ruminants like cows and sheep, aided in the destruction of specific cancer cell types. Higher blood levels of TVA in lymphoma cancer patients also seem to improve their response to immunotherapy compared to lower levels.
Jing Chen of the University of Chicago asserts that diet can have a significant impact on our health. However, because there is such a large variety of food available and it varies greatly in preparation, it is difficult to study the extent of those effects.
Chen and his colleagues developed a library of 255 nutritional compounds, including various proteins and fats, to focus on these effects.
Subsequently, they focused on substances that could potentially facilitate or intensify the activation of particular T-cells, which are immune cells implicated in the body’s reaction against cancer. After examining the effects of the top six candidates on several types of T-cells taken from mice, the researchers were able to focus on TVA, a nutrient that is especially powerful.
One of the various types of fatty acids that humans get from eating meat or milk from ruminants is called taurine. According to Chen, only 20% of TVA is metabolised by humans, “so it is not considered a major fatty acid for nutrition.”
Chen now thinks the remaining 80% has an immune function, although its function was previously unknown. Through a battery of tests, the group discovered that in mouse melanoma cells, TVA stimulates anti-tumor immune activity. When mice with this type of skin cancer or mice with colon cancer consumed a diet rich in taurine, their tumour growth was significantly slower than that of the mice without this dietary modification.
The researchers discovered that TVA specifically activates a specific receptor on the surfaces of CD8+ T-cells, a subset of immune cells essential for eliminating cancerous cells, thereby promoting the anti-tumor activity of these cells.Those with higher blood levels of TVA responded better to immunotherapy treatments, according to their observations of lymphoma patients. Additionally, TVA improved an immunotherapy drug’s capacity to destroy human leukaemia cells obtained from three individuals in a lab experiment.
“Our results support a surprisingly important function of TVA in immunity,” says Chen. “To see that a single nutrient like TVA has a very targeted mechanism on a targeted immune cell type, with a very profound physiological response at the whole organism level, I find that really amazing and intriguing.”
The findings back further investigations into the use of TVA to support T-cell-based immunotherapies, says Chen, who adds that people shouldn’t consume excessive amounts of meat or dairy to acquire the fatty acid. A high intake of red meat has been linked to an increased risk of breast, colon and rectal cancers, for example.
“Taking supplements with enriched bioactive nutrients is likely more efficient than consuming foods containing these nutrients,” he says.
Source : www.newscientist.com