Scientists have discovered a new and potent anti-cancer compound ineveryday food. The collaborative study led by UCL (University CollegeLondon) shows that the compound - inositol pentakisphosphate - found inbeans, nuts and cereals inhibits a key enzyme (phosphoinositide3-kinase) involved in tumour growth. The findings, published in thelatest issue of Cancer Research, suggest that a diet enriched in suchfoods could help prevent cancer, while the inhibitor offers a new toolfor anti-cancer therapy.
Phosphoinositide 3-kinase is a key player in the development andprogression of human tumours. Scientists have been exploringphosphoinositide 3-kinase as a target for cancer treatment butinhibitors have been difficult to develop because of problems with thechemical stability and toxicity of the inhibiting substances. Now, ateam of scientists led by Dr Marco Falasca of the UCL Sackler Institutehave discovered that a natural compound, inositol pentakisphosphate,inhibits the activity of the enzyme, suggesting it could be used todevelop new treatments for cancer.
In the study, the compound was tested in mouse models and oncancer cells. Not only was it found to inhibit the growth of tumours inmice, but the phosphate also enhanced the effect of cytotoxic drugs inovarian and lung cancer cells. The findings suggest that inositolpentakisphosphate could be used to sensitize cancer cells to the actionof commonly used anti-cancer drugs.
Inositol pentakisphosphate is a non-toxic, water-solublecompound found in most legumes (such as lentils, peas and beans) and inwheat bran and nuts. These properties make the compound a promisingtherapeutic agent since conventional chemotherapy agents can be toxicto different degrees, whereas in the study, the inositol phosphateagent was found to be non-toxic even at higher concentrations.
Dr Marco Falasca of the UCL Sackler Institute says: "Our studysuggests the importance of a diet enriched in food such as beans, nutsand cereals which could help prevent cancer. Our work will now focus onestablishing whether the phosphate inhibitor can be developed into ananti-cancer agent for human therapy. We believe that inositolpentakisphosphate is a promising anti-cancer tool and we hope to bringit to clinical testing soon."
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