Could changing diet make chemotherapy drugs more effective for patients with pancreatic cancer? Lab experiments, testing ketogenic diet, lead to nationwide clinical trial

The results of a new study suggest that a ketogenic diet – which is low in carbohydrates and protein, but high in fat – helps kill pancreatic cancer cells when combined with a triple therapy developed by Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), a subsidiary of City of Hope.

In lab experiments, the ketogenic diet decreased glucose (sugar) levels in the tumor, suggesting the diet helped starve the cancer. Additionally, this diet elevates ketone bodies produced by the liver, which puts additional stress on cancer cells. The study published in the journal Medium.

By destabilizing cancer cells, the ketogenic diet created a microenvironment in which the triple therapy designed by TGen – a combination of gemcitabine, nab-paclitaxel and cisplatin – was more effective in eliminating the tumor, according to the study.

“By limiting the availability of glucose, the ketogenic diet may promote the effectiveness of chemotherapy,” said TGen Distinguished Professor Daniel D. Von Hoff, MD, considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on pancreatic cancer. . Dr. Von Hoff is one of the authors of the study and one of the designers of the therapy.

Additionally, the ketogenic diet has been shown to have a favorable impact on antitumor immunity by inducing the expression of pro-inflammatory tumor genes, which further weakens the cancer.

Clinical trials at five sites

To test these lab results, the researchers launched a clinical trial involving up to 40 patients at five centers across the country: HonorHealth in Scottsdale, USC in Los Angeles, Nuvance Health in Connecticut, Atlantic Health System in New Jersey and South Texas Accelerated Research Therapeutics in San Antonio.

The clinical trial will test whether adding a ketogenic diet to triple therapy will increase overall survival for patients with pancreatic cancer. This clinical trial began in late 2020 and is expected to continue increasing patient numbers through June 2023. Patients will be randomly assigned to receive the three-drug regimen during a standard regimen, while the other half will receive a ketogenic diet and triple-drug therapy. The dietary aspects of the study are closely monitored.

“Our lab experiments show that a ketogenic diet alters pancreatic cancer metabolism and its response to chemotherapy,” said Haiyong Han, Ph.D., a professor in TGen’s Division of Molecular Medicine, and one of the study authors and designer of the study experiments. .

Princeton University, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Rutgers Cancer Institute and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research also contributed to this study.

The preclinical study was funded by: Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C), National Institutes of Health, Ludwig Cancer Research, New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research, New Jersey Health Foundation, Rutgers Busch Biomedical Grant, Lustgarten Foundation , the Lorraine Freeberg Gift and Foundation, and the David C. Copley Foundation.

The clinical trial is funded by Purple Pansies and the John E. Sabga Foundation.

Source of the story:

Materials provided by The Institute for Translational Research in Genomics. Original written by Steve Yozwiak. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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