Nav: Home

Cancer-killing compound spares healthy cells

January 04, 2012

Montreal -- Lithocholic acid (LCA), naturally produced in the liver during digestion, has been seriously underestimated. A study published in the journal Oncotarget shows that LCA can kill several types of cancer cells, such as those found in some brain tumors and breast cancer.

The research team, led by Concordia University, included scientists from McGill University and the Jewish General Hospital's Lady Davis Institute in Montreal as well as the University of Saskatchewan.

Previous research from this same team showed LCA also extends the lifespan of aging yeast. This time, the team found LCA to be very selective in killing cancer cells while leaving normal cells unscathed. This could signal a huge improvement over the baby-with-the-bathwater drugs used in chemotherapy.

"LCA doesn't just kill individual cancer cells. It could also prevent the entire tumor from growing," says senior author Vladimir Titorenko, a professor in the Department of Biology and Concordia University Research Chair in Genomics, Cell Biology and Aging.

What's more, LCA prevents tumors from releasing substances that cause neighboring cancer cells to grow and proliferate. Titorenko says LCA is the only compound that targets cancer cells, which could translate into tumor-halting power.

"This is important for preventing cancer cells from spreading to other parts of the body," he says, noting that unlike other anti-aging compounds, LCA stops cancer cell growth yet lets normal cells continue to grow.

A wide effect on different types of cancers

The next step for the research team will be to test LCA's effect on different cancers in mice models. Titorenko expects that LCA will also kill cancer cells in those experiments and lead to human clinical trials. "Our study found that LCA kills not only tumors (neuroblastomas), but also human breast cancer cells," says Titorenko. "This shows that it has a wide effect on different types of cancers."

Titorenko emphasizes that unlike drugs used in chemotherapy, LCA is a natural compound that is already present in our bodies. Studies have shown that LCA can be safely administered to mice by adding it to their food. So why is LCA so deadly for cancer cells? Titorenko speculates that cancer cells have more sensors for LCA, which makes them more sensitive to the compound than normal cells.

LCA sensors send signals to mitochondria -- the powerhouses of all cells. It seems that when these signals are too strong, mitochondria self-destruct and bring the cell down with them. Simply put, Titorenko and his colleagues engaged in cancer cell sabotage by targeting a weakness to LCA.
-end-
Partners in research:

This study was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Concordia University Research Chair program.

Related links:

Cited research: http://spectrum.library.concordia.ca/36018

Concordia Department of Biology: http://biology.concordia.ca

McGill University: http://www.mcgill.ca

Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital: http://ladydavis.ca

University of Saskatchewan: http://www.usask.ca

Media contact:

Nadia Kherif
Media Relations Advisor
Concordia University
Phone: 514-848-2424, ext. 4187
Cell.: 514-260-0909

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/concordia

Concordia news: http://www.concordia.ca/now

Concordia University

Related Breast Cancer Articles:

Breast cancer: AI predicts which pre-malignant breast lesions will progress to advanced cancer
New research at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, could help better determine which patients diagnosed with the pre-malignant breast cancer commonly as stage 0 are likely to progress to invasive breast cancer and therefore might benefit from additional therapy over and above surgery alone.
Partial breast irradiation effective treatment option for low-risk breast cancer
Partial breast irradiation produces similar long-term survival rates and risk for recurrence compared with whole breast irradiation for many women with low-risk, early stage breast cancer, according to new clinical data from a national clinical trial involving researchers from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G.
Breast screening linked to 60 per cent lower risk of breast cancer death in first 10 years
Women who take part in breast screening have a significantly greater benefit from treatments than those who are not screened, according to a study of more than 50,000 women.
More clues revealed in link between normal breast changes and invasive breast cancer
A research team, led by investigators from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, details how a natural and dramatic process -- changes in mammary glands to accommodate breastfeeding -- uses a molecular process believed to contribute to survival of pre-malignant breast cells.
Breast tissue tumor suppressor PTEN: A potential Achilles heel for breast cancer cells
A highly collaborative team of researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and Ohio State University report in Nature Communications that they have identified a novel pathway for connective tissue PTEN in breast cancer cell response to radiotherapy.
Computers equal radiologists in assessing breast density and associated breast cancer risk
Automated breast-density evaluation was just as accurate in predicting women's risk of breast cancer, found and not found by mammography, as subjective evaluation done by radiologists, in a study led by researchers at UC San Francisco and Mayo Clinic.
Blood test can effectively rule out breast cancer, regardless of breast density
A new study published in PLOS ONE demonstrates that Videssa® Breast, a multi-protein biomarker blood test for breast cancer, is unaffected by breast density and can reliably rule out breast cancer in women with both dense and non-dense breast tissue.
Study shows influence of surgeons on likelihood of removal of healthy breast after breast cancer dia
Attending surgeons can have a strong influence on whether a patient undergoes contralateral prophylactic mastectomy after a diagnosis of breast cancer, according to a study published by JAMA Surgery.
Young breast cancer patients undergoing breast conserving surgery see improved prognosis
A new analysis indicates that breast cancer prognoses have improved over time in young women treated with breast conserving surgery.
Does MRI plus mammography improve detection of new breast cancer after breast conservation therapy?
A new article published by JAMA Oncology compares outcomes for combined mammography and MRI or ultrasonography screenings for new breast cancers in women who have previously undergone breast conservation surgery and radiotherapy for breast cancer initially diagnosed at 50 or younger.
More Breast Cancer News and Breast Cancer Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans 2.0
More than test scores or good grades–what do kids need for the future? This hour, TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, both during and after this time of crisis. Guests include educators Richard Culatta and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 3: Shared Immunity
More than a million people have caught Covid-19, and tens of thousands have died. But thousands more have survived and recovered. A week or so ago (aka, what feels like ten years in corona time) producer Molly Webster learned that many of those survivors possess a kind of superpower: antibodies trained to fight the virus. Not only that, they might be able to pass this power on to the people who are sick with corona, and still in the fight. Today we have the story of an experimental treatment that's popping up all over the country: convalescent plasma transfusion, a century-old procedure that some say may become one of our best weapons against this devastating, new disease.   If you have recovered from Covid-19 and want to donate plasma, national and local donation registries are gearing up to collect blood.  To sign up with the American Red Cross, a national organization that works in local communities, head here.  To find out more about the The National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project, which we spoke about in our episode, including information on clinical trials or plasma donation projects in your community, go here.  And if you are in the greater New York City area, and want to donate convalescent plasma, head over to the New York Blood Center to sign up. Or, register with specific NYC hospitals here.   If you are sick with Covid-19, and are interested in participating in a clinical trial, or are looking for a plasma donor match, check in with your local hospital, university, or blood center for more; you can also find more information on trials at The National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project. And lastly, Tatiana Prowell's tweet that tipped us off is here. This episode was reported by Molly Webster and produced by Pat Walters. Special thanks to Drs. Evan Bloch and Tim Byun, as well as the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.