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Tumor killers found in an Omega-3 (DHA)

In the world of science and disease research, one discovery by itself does not always lead to a groundbreaking treatment or revolutionary jump in medicine. Often times, any given research furthers our knowledge about a given subject, but in the meantime, has little practical usage. However, past research is frequently utilized in current experiments, and this was precisely the case in UCLouvain Professor Ferons' research regarding cells in an acidic microenvironment (acidosis) within tumors. In the initial (past) research, it was discovered that these same cells are the most aggressive and acquire the ability to leave the original tumor to generate metastases. In the broad world of science, a familiar face from the same university, Yvan Larondelle, proposed to Feron that they combine their skills in a research project to evaluate the behavior of tumor cells in the presence of different fatty acids. Due to the combined efforts of the teams, it was quickly discovered that acidotic tumor cells responded in completely opposite ways depending on the fatty acid they were absorbing. "We soon found that certain fatty acids stimulated the tumor cells while others killed them," the researchers explained. The poison acts on tumor cells via a phenomenon called ferroptosis, a type of cell death linked to the peroxidation of certain fatty acids. The greater the amount of unsaturated fatty acids in the cell, the greater the risk of their oxidation. Normally, in the acidic compartment within tumors, cells store these fatty acids in lipid droplets, a kind of bundle in which fatty acids are protected from oxidation. But in the presence of a large amount of DHA, the tumor cell is overwhelmed and cannot store the DHA, which oxidizes and leads to cell death. By using a lipid metabolism inhibitor that prevents the formation of lipid droplets, researchers were able to observe that this phenomenon is further amplified, which confirms the identified mechanism and opens the door to combined treatment possibilities. The researchers utilized a 3D tumor cell culture simulation called spheroids. In the presence of DHA, said spheroids grew and exploded. IN another experiment with mice with tumors, the mice were fed a DHA rich diet, and in this experimental groups tumors grew slower as compared to a control group. This UCLouvain study shows the value of DHA in fighting cancer. "For an adult," the UCLouvain researchers stated, "it's recommended to consume at least 250 mg of DHA per day. But studies show that our diet provides on average only 50 to 100 mg per day. This is well below the minimum recommended intake."

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