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How do nutritional supplements affect melanoma?
Many people take supplements to strengthen their joints. However, researchers have now found that taking chondroitin sulfate, a commonly used food, causes a certain type of melanoma to grow faster.
- Dietary supplements to strengthen the joints can accelerate the growth of melanomas.
- Enzyme chondroitin sulfate glucuronyltransferase could be used as a cancer treatment target.
- Ketogenic diet can accelerate growth of V600E melanoma cells.
In their current research, Emory University scientists found that a dietary supplement that is often used to strengthen the joints can accelerate the growth of a certain type of melanoma. The experts published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Molecular Cell".
Researchers studied the effects on mice
A special mutation in the so-called B-raf gene (V600E) can be found in about half of the melanomas, according to the researchers. Chondroitin sulfate can increase the growth of melanoma cells that carry the V600E mutation. However, other melanoma cells are not affected, say the doctors. In the study, chondroitin sulfate was administered to mice that had implanted V600E tumors.
Effects of taking chondroitin sulfate
The V600E tumors in chondroitin sulfate-fed mice showed resistance to vemurafenib, a small molecule B-Raf inhibitor currently used to treat V600E-positive melanoma patients. The results should be a warning to oncologists and people at increased risk of melanoma who take such supplements. Chondroitin sulfate is a structural component of cartilage and is often recommended for the treatment of osteoarthritis in combination with other compounds such as glucosamine.
Chondroitin sulfate can accelerate the growth of cells
The experts explain that it is possible that people with a precancerous lesion will be affected by the V600E mutation. If such people take chondroitin sulfate, the growth of the cells can accelerate. In addition, V600E positive cancer patients who take chondroitin sulfate may be at higher risk of relapse, Professor Chen of the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University said in a press release.
More research is needed
The results must now be checked in further investigations. Another large study, for example, showed no link between chondroitin sulfate and prostate or lung cancer risk. However, the research did not examine the genetic background that could affect the individual risk of cancer, the expert adds.
Only the polymeric form of chondroitin sulfate affects melanoma
The finding that chondroitin sulfate can drive the growth of melanoma cells suggests a signaling function within cells that is not yet known to scientists. The researchers found that only the polymeric form of chondroitin sulfate (not the digested form) affected so-called B-raf melanomas. In their investigation, the scientists observed that the enzyme chondroitin sulfate glucuronyl transferase (CSGlcA-T, or CSG for short) could be detected several times in the experiments. CSG is important for the formation of the chondroitin sulfate polymer, which is then secreted outside the cells.
Can CSG be used against cancer?
During her current work, CSG was also identified as an anti-cancer drug target. However, compounds that inhibit the enzyme are not readily available. The scientists explain that inhibitors need to be examined for possible side effects such as joint pain or deterioration of the connective tissue.
Ketogenic diet accelerates growth of V600E melanoma cells
In addition to B-raf V600E, CSG may also connect to other oncogenes, says Professor Chen. The doctors also found that a so-called high-fat, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet can accelerate the growth of V600E melanoma cells. (as)