As shown by experiments on laboratory mice, the complete exclusion from the diet of animals of two specific amino acids — the "building blocks" of all natural protein slowed the development of cancer of the blood and intestines.
We are talking about the amino acids glycine and serine, which is rich in meat and dairy products. Glycine also in abundance is the water spinach and watercress, and serine — almonds, lentils and chickpeas.
These amino acids are vital cells for the production of proteins and therefore growth and development. If the healthy cells themselves synthesize glycine and serine, the malignant cells depend mainly on the amino acids coming from food, and that this fact was based the researchers.
Scientists have planted genetically modified mice with bowel cancer and lymphoma on a special diet, which was completely absent from foods that contain glycine and serine. As a result, the growth of tumors in animals has slowed and life expectancy has increased.
Moreover, as a result of this diet malignant cells not only lost vital substances, but also become more vulnerable to reactive oxygen species. As the concentration of active forms of oxygen in cells increases under the effect of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, the researchers suggested that protein-free diet may enhance the effectiveness of standard cancer treatments.
However, as shown by the results of the study, a protein-free diet works if you activate the Kras gene, which leads to increased ability of cancer cells to synthesis of serine and glycine. This situation occurs in particular when most forms of pancreatic cancer.
Scientists next step will be clinical trials that will test as protein-free diet effect on cancer patients. If the outcome of the test will be considered positive, such a diet may in the future be used as a complementary measure in the treatment of certain cancers.
However, warn the researchers, patients don't rush out and self-exclude from the diet products containing glycine and serine. "This kind of restrictive diet should be administered for a very short time and held under careful control and supervision of experts," — said one of the authors, Professor Karen Vousden (Karen Vousden).