Using a drug and special diet to cut levels of asparagine greatly reduced the spread of an especially deadly form of breast cancer in mice, scientists found.
The research was looking at asparagine, an amino acid found in asparagus and lots of other foods.
Most cancer patients do not die from their primary tumour, but from the spread of diseased cells to the lungs, brain, bones, or other organs.
While it is not clear how, a team showed that a diet low in asparagine significantly reduced tumours' spread in affected mice. Foods rich in asparagine include dairy, whey, beef, poultry, eggs, fish, seafood, asparagus, potatoes, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy and whole grains.
Asparagine takes its name from the vegetable asparagus and is an amino acid.
A team of worldwide cancer researchers from the UK, US and Canada studied the impact of asparagine in triple-negative breast cancer cells, which grow and spread faster than most other types of cancer cells.
A cancerous cell must go through huge changes in order to spread - it must learn to break off the main tumour, survive in the bloodstream and thrive elsewhere in the body.
By putting mice on a diet low in the amino acid and giving them a treatment that blocks its production, scientists were able to stop their cancer spreading. Albeit cure propositions late-stage breast cancer is segmented into the three extensive categories of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery, their petition is habitually varied than in earlier stages.
"This is interesting research looking at how cutting off the supply of nutrients essential to cancer's spread could help restrain tumours". It's possible that in future, this drug could be re-purposed to help treat breast cancer patients.
Prof Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, said: "Interestingly, the drug L-asparaginase is used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, which is dependent on asparagine". The next step would involve a clinical trial with cancer patients. The Kras gene activation is common in patients with pancreatic cancer.
In the future, restricting this amino acid through a controlled diet plan or by other means could be an additional part of treatment for some patients with breast and other cancers.