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Sugar substitute may aid cancer treatment

Thursday November 22nd, 2018

A sugar extracted from trees – mannose – may prove helpful in treating cancer, British researchers reported last night.

The researchers report on laboratory trials of mannose, testing its effectiveness in replacing glucose within human metabolism.

Mannose derives from a sugary sap from plants such as the South European flowering ash, also known as the manna ash.

The findings were published in Nature last night.

The treatment proved effective in mouse models of pancreatic, lung and skin cancer, slowing tumour growth and extending the lifespan of some animals. In vitro tests were also performed for cells of leukaemia, osteosarcoma and ovarian and colorectal cancer with mixed success.

Researcher Professor Kevin Ryan, from the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in Glasgow, UK, said: “Tumours need a lot of glucose to grow, so limiting the amount they can use should slow cancer progression. The problem is that normal tissues need glucose as well, so we can’t completely remove it from the body. In our study, we found a dosage of mannose that could block enough glucose to slow tumour growth in mice, but not so much that normal tissues were affected.

“This is early research, but it is hoped that finding this perfect balance means that, in the future, mannose could be given to cancer patients to enhance chemotherapy without damaging their overall health.”

Nature 21 November 2018

Tags: Cancer | Diet & Food | UK News

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