Vitamin B6 may help treat pancreatic cancer

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At the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, a new study is underway, led by Dr. Kamiya Mehla, an associate professor of oncology science.

She’s on a mission to find new ways to boost the body’s defenses against one of the most formidable foes in the cancer world: pancreatic cancer.

Her research, centered on the role of vitamin B6, is showing promising signs of turning the tide against this deadly disease.

Vitamin B6 is a vital nutrient, found in foods like chicken, fish, and bananas, playing a crucial role in supporting our immune system. It aids natural killer (NK) cells, our body’s first line of defense against threats, including cancer.

However, pancreatic cancer presents a unique challenge. This aggressive cancer type hijacks the body’s vitamin B6, leaving NK cells starved and unable to perform their protective role.

The statistics are grim; only 11% of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survive beyond five years. This dire survival rate underscores the urgent need for innovative research and treatment strategies.

Dr. Mehla’s lab at the OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center is diving deep into this issue, exploring how vitamin B6 interacts with both healthy and cancerous cells.

Despite the essential role of vitamin B6 in immune health, simply increasing its intake doesn’t solve the problem. Pancreatic cancer cells exploit the additional vitamin B6, using it to fuel their growth.

Dr. Mehla’s research has led to a novel three-step strategy aimed at countering this. The approach starts with blocking the cancer’s ability to absorb vitamin B6, followed by boosting the body’s vitamin B6 levels, and finally, enhancing the effectiveness of NK cells.

This multifaceted strategy has shown promising results in reducing pancreatic cancer cells in mice.

Dr. Mehla’s work doesn’t stop at treating cancer; it also aims to understand the broader impact of pancreatic cancer on the body.

The disease’s relentless quest for nutrients causes widespread damage, particularly to the liver, and may contribute to cachexia, a severe muscle-wasting condition affecting many pancreatic cancer patients.

This condition significantly diminishes patients’ quality of life and their ability to respond to treatment.

Moreover, Dr. Mehla is exploring the link between environmental factors, such as exposure to radiation and chemical toxins, and the increased risk of pancreatic cancer.

This research holds particular relevance for military members, who may face heightened risks due to their service. The goal is not only to find more effective treatments for pancreatic cancer but also to alleviate conditions like cachexia that compound patients’ suffering.

Dr. Mehla’s pioneering work opens new avenues for treating pancreatic cancer, offering a beacon of hope for those affected by this devastating disease.

By focusing on the role of vitamin B6 and the immune system, her research could pave the way for more personalized and effective treatment strategies, potentially improving survival rates and quality of life for pancreatic cancer patients.

If you care about liver health, please read studies about a diet that can treat fatty liver disease and obesity, and coffee drinkers may halve their risk of liver cancer.

For more information about liver health, please see recent studies that anti-inflammatory diet could help prevent fatty liver disease, and results showing vitamin D could help prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

The research findings can be found in Cancer Discovery.

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