Breast-cancer causing compound impeded in mice Scientists report

PARIS (Monitoring desk): An ordinary amino acid found commonly in human body or assimilated from food can be thwarted to stop breast-cancer from spreading in mice, researchers disclosed Wednesday.

They are positive that the finding may yield a cure  for killing breast-cancer cells in a woman at their initial stage of development, thereby preventing them to form tumors in her lungs, brain, bones and other organs – a procedure known as “metastasis” the most probable cause of death.

Tests on lab mice have shown that a non-essential compound dubbed asparagine is likely to be a major trigger of breast cancer cell proliferation, the researchers revealed.

The amino acid — a building block of proteins — can be produced by every cell in the human body, including cancer cells, or absorbed from foods such as beef, dairy, poultry, seafood, asparagus and soy.

In mouse studies, “we could reduce metastasis either by changing the ability of tumour cells to make asparagine, by treating mice with a drug that reduces the availability of asparagine in the body, or by eliminating asparagine from the diet,” said Greg Hannon of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute.

He was the lead author of a study published in the science journal Nature.

By reducing asparagine in the mouse diet, metastasis was reduced by half, Hannon told AFP.  Additionally it was obsereved that combining other methods of asparagine restriction, metastasis was cut by approximately 20 times, he added.

This possibly is the first time that altering diet can actually be linked to a biological process that enhances cancer growth, told the researcher.

Could an asparagine-restricted diet help stop tumor spread in cancer patients?

The researchers cautioned it was too early to jump to conclusions about asparagine´s role in human cancers or to advise dietary changes.

“This is potentially a big deal,” Hannon told AFP of the study findings while stressing that much more research is needed.

The findings, he added, were “not guaranteed to translate to humans”, though there were hopeful signs that similar processes were at work as in mice.