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Starve a cancer

23 July 2010 Biochemical Society, The

Researchers at Boston College, MA, have found that reducing calorie intake can restrict the growth and spread of brain cancer.

Writing in ASN NEURO, Laura Shelton and colleagues report success with mice suffering from glioblastoma multiforme, the most aggressive and invasive form of primary human brain cancer.

Restricting calorific intake lowers blood glucose levels and reduces the carbohydrate energy available to the tumour cells, which rely heavily on glycolysis. Normal brain cells can use ketone bodies – acetone, acetoacetic acid and β-hydroxybutyric acid – for energy.

The researchers say that their findings “indicate that brain tumour cells are more sensitive to energy stress than normal brain cells and can be targeted through principles of metabolic control theory.” They conclude that diets which lower glucose and elevate ketone levels can be therapeutic for invasive brain tumours.

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