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Researchers Find an Amino Acid Helps Breast Cancer Metastasize

By jeremyc | February 8, 2018

In a new study, the researchers have found that asparagines help triple-negative breast cancer to spread to other parts of the body. The researchers also noted that reducing asparagines content reduces the capacity of tumors cells to metastasize.

Asparagine is an amino acid, but unlike some other amino acids, it is not essential for us. Our body synthesizes this amino acid from different foods, such as asparagus, potatoes and fish. Triple-negative breast cancer is a very aggressive type of breast cancer. It spreads quickly and usually exhibits resistance to traditional cancer treatments like radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

In this study, the researchers focused on understanding the link between metastasis of breast cancer and asparagine. The study was done on mice with triple-negative breast cancer.

The researchers administered L-asparaginase to mice. This drug works by blocking asparagine production in our body. At present, this drug is used for treating acute lymphoblastic leukemia. At the same time, the researchers also restricted the content of asparagine-rich foods in the diet fed to these mice. This in turn ensured that mice had reduced levels of asparagine.

This two-sided approach led to reduced capacity of tumor cells for metastases. According to the researchers, this finding improves our understanding about how cancer can be stopped from spreading. Their next focus is to perform a clinical trial to better understand how the levels of asparagine are affected by diet.

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