This weight loss diet can boost treatment effect in pancreatic cancer

Credit: National Cancer Institute.

A new study from the Translational Genomics Research Institute found that a ketogenic diet—which is low in carbohydrates and protein, but high in fat—helps to kill pancreatic cancer cells when combined with a triple-drug therapy.

They found the ketogenic diet decreased glucose (sugar) levels in the tumor, suggesting the diet helped starve cancer.

In addition, this diet elevated ketone bodies produced by the liver, which put additional stress on the cancer cells.

The team says by destabilizing the cancer cells, the ketogenic diet created a microenvironment in which the triple-drug therapy was designed by them —a combination of gemcitabine, nab-paclitaxel and cisplatin—was more effective at knocking out the tumor.

In addition, the ketogenic diet was shown to have a favorable impact on antitumor immunity by inducing pro-inflammatory tumor gene expression, which further weakened cancer.

The study is published in Med and was conducted by Professor Daniel D. Von Hoff et al.

The team starts a clinical trial of up to 40 patients at five centers nationwide.

The clinical trial will test whether adding a ketogenic diet to the triple-drug therapy will increase overall survival in patients with pancreatic cancer.

This clinical trial began in late 2020 and is anticipated to continue to accrue to patients through June 2023.

Patients will be randomly assigned to either receive the triple-drug regimen while on a standard diet, while the other half will receive a ketogenic diet and triple-drug therapy. The dietary aspects of the study are being carefully monitored.

Recent studies have found this drug combo makes pancreatic cancer treatable, and this herb may help treat pancreatic cancer, which is highly relevant to the current study.

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Previous research has found new treatments for pancreatic cancer.

In a study from Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, researchers found the drug adagrasib specifically targets the KRASG12C gene mutation that is common in gastrointestinal cancers and inhibits gastrointestinal function.

They found promising clinical effects in patients with gastrointestinal cancers that harbor KRAS G12C mutations, including pancreatic cancer, biliary tract cancer, and other upper gastrointestinal cancers.

The team says the prognosis for patients whose cancer harbors a KRAS gene mutation is particularly poor, and researchers’ attempts to target KRAS G12C, which represents less than 5% of all KRAS mutations in this group of cancers, have failed until only recently.

The finding showed that adagrasib not only inhibits cancers with a KRASG12C mutation effectively but also showed promising clinical activity in patients with gastrointestinal cancers.

These results were very impressive in treating a group of diseases that tend to have a particularly poor outcome

In another study from the Technical University of Munich, researchers discovered a way of making pancreatic tumors treatable with immunotherapy methods using a targeted combination of two cancer drugs.

The researchers believe that the promising combined approach could also prove effective with other cancer types.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the most common form of pancreatic cancer. The disease is almost always fatal, with a 10-year survival rate of around 1%.

The prognosis is especially poor for a subgroup of these tumors known as mesenchymal PDAC subtype, where even the strongest combination chemotherapies do not improve the poor clinical outcomes.

In the study, the team found drug trametinib showed early promise with cancers that activate the RAF-MEK-ERK signaling pathway.

Because pancreatic cancers of the mesenchymal subtype show the highest activation of this pathway, it appeared likely that a drug that inhibits this pathway could offer therapeutic benefits.

Experiments showed, however, that treatments with trametinib alone were insufficient.

The researchers, therefore, conducted high-throughput screening of 418 drugs and discovered that nintedanib, a drug already approved for lung fibrosis treatment, stimulated T-cells infiltration when used in combination with trametinib.

The combination of the two drugs led to cell cycle arrest and the death of cancerous cells. They also changed the microenvironment of the tumor.

Next, the researchers found immunotherapy improved the effect of the combination treatment with trametinib and nintedanib.

The triple treatment strongly improved the response of the tumor, leading to a clear survival advantage of the highly aggressive mesenchymal PDAC subtype.

The results represent an important first step toward targeted treatment of PDAC, for which there are currently no efficient therapeutic options.

The researchers believe that the combination treatment may also have the potential to create anti-tumor immunity with other cancer types, resulting in improved therapeutic outcomes.

If you care about pancreatic cancer, please read studies about this diabetes can be an early sign of pancreatic cancer and findings of a new way to treat pancreatic cancer more effectively.

For more information about pancreatic cancer, please see recent studies about this treatment may improve survival of pancreatic cancer and results showing how to stop spread of pancreatic cancer.

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