Malignant mesothelioma is one of the most challenging types of cancer to treat. This is partially due to the disease not being diagnosed until it is in an advanced stage, and partially due to its extreme resistance to chemotherapy. That resistance has been linked to a variety of genetic mutations including a mutation in the KRAS gene that strengthens the cancerous cells’ defenses against the cancer-killing agent. Now scientists from the University of Southern California and the IFOM Cancer Institute in Milan have found that a combination of vitamin C and a fasting-mimicking diet can counter this and make chemotherapy more effective.
KRAS Mutation Found in Some Mesotheliomas Vulnerable to Diet Cycle Manipulation
The recently published study did not specifically look at the fasting-mimicking diet’s effect on malignant mesothelioma, but it did focus on cancer cells that have the KRAS gene mutation that many mesotheliomas have. Lab studies on mice infected with another KRAS gene mutation malignancy, colorectal cancer, yielded positive results including disease regression in some lab animals.
Speaking about their discovery, Valter Longo, the study senior author and the director of the USC Longevity Institute at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and professor of biological sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences said, “For the first time, we have demonstrated how a completely non-toxic intervention can effectively treat an aggressive cancer. We have taken two treatments that are studied extensively as interventions to delay aging— a fasting-mimicking diet and vitamin C—and combined them as a powerful treatment for cancer.”
Fasting-Mimicking Seen As Safer for Mesothelioma Patients than Actual Fasting
Though fasting has been discussed as a theoretical treatment in many cancers, it is generally not recommended for those with mesothelioma and other aggressive cancers because of its weakening effect on the body. The researchers created a safer version of fasting, substituting a regular diet with a low-calorie plant-base diet and combining it with vitamin C. The mix countered the impact of the KFAR mutation, permitting low-toxicity chemotherapy to access and effect the cancer cells. “Our first in vitro experiment showed remarkable effects,” said Longo. “When used alone, fasting-mimicking diet or vitamin C alone reduced cancer cell growth and caused a minor increase in cancer cell death. But when used together, they had a dramatic effect, killing almost all cancerous cells.”
Studies like this offer hope to mesothelioma patients. For more information on developments in the treatment of this rare asbestos-related disease, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.