When you were a kid and your mother told you to drink your milk, you probably never dreamed that the white stuff you poured over your cereal might hold the key to curing malignant mesothelioma. Though it would definitely be a stretch to think that drinking more cow’s milk could eradicate the asbestos-related disease, as so often turns out to be true, there’s a grain of truth to what mom always said. Researchers from Australia have determined that a compound in cow’s milk might be used to kill mesothelioma cells that have proven resistant to more traditional cancer-killing methods, and particularly chemotherapy.
The mesothelioma-killing compounds are known as BLAGLET and BAMLET: they are derived from a lipid called oleic acid and either alpha or beta-lactalbumin. These protein-lipid complexes are found in cow’s milk — the beta lactoglobulin is a whey protein while alpha lactoglobulin controls lactose production in mammals. Researchers from the University of Sydney say they can seek out and trigger cancer cell death while leaving healthy cells unscathed.
The information about cows’ milk’s role in killing cancer cells is not new – it was first reported by microbiologists in Sweden in 2006, and confirmed by another study in 2010. But the recent Australian study is the first to specifically test the reaction on malignant mesothelioma. The laboratory-based tests studied the impact of changing the oleic acid content of the complex on the dangerous cells, and found that the higher the content, the more lethal. Writing of their findings in PLoS ONE, lead study author and molecular biologist Emma Rath, PhD said, “BAMLET showed…cytotoxicity to cisplatin-resistant, pemetrexed-resistant, vinorelbine-resistant, and parental rat mesothelioma cells, indicating the BAMLET anti-cancer mechanism may be different to drugs currently used to treat mesothelioma.”
The next step in the research process is testing the process this emerging treatment on human patients. The compound needs to be delivered directly to the cancerous cells: the digestive process prevents that from happening, so drinking more milk won’t have an impact. But with these compounds readily available and offering a method of killing mesothelioma cells without the harmful impacts of chemotherapy, the protocol offers an exciting opportunity.
If you or someone you love has mesothelioma and you need information about the latest clinical research, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net can help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.