According to a recent study, a triple-drug therapy developed by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), a partner of City of Hope, in conjunction with a ketogenic diet that is high in fat and low in carbohydrates and protein may help to destroy pancreatic cancer cells.
In lab tests, the ketogenic diet resulted in lower glucose (sugar) levels in the tumor, indicating that the diet may have assisted in starving the malignancy. Additionally, the liver’s production of ketone bodies was increased by this diet, which put an additional strain on the cancer cells. The study was printed in the Medical journal.
According to the study, the ketogenic diet destabilized the cancer cells and produced a microenvironment where the TGen-designed triple-drug therapy, which combines gemcitabine, nab-paclitaxel, and cisplatin, was more successful in eliminating the tumor.
“By limiting glucose availability, the ketogenic diet may promote chemotherapy efficacy,” said TGen Distinguished Professor Daniel D. Von Hoff, M.D., considered one of the nation’s foremost authorities on pancreatic cancer. Dr. Von Hoff is one of the study authors and designers of the therapy.
Our laboratory experiments show that a ketogenic diet changes pancreatic cancer metabolism and its response to chemotherapy.Professor Haiyong Han
Additionally, it was shown that the ketogenic diet enhanced the expression of pro-inflammatory tumor genes, further weakening the malignancy, which had a positive effect on antitumor immunity.
Clinical trials at five locations
To test these laboratory findings, researchers initiated a clinical trial of up to 40 patients at five centers nationwide: 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 purpose of the clinical research is to determine whether increasing overall survival in pancreatic cancer patients by combining a ketogenic diet with triple-drug therapy. The patient enrollment for this clinical trial started in late 2020 and is expected to continue through June 2023.
Half of the patients will receive a ketogenic diet and the triple-drug therapy while the other half will be randomly allocated to receive the triple-drug regimen while on a regular diet. The study’s nutritional components are being closely watched.
“Our laboratory experiments show that a ketogenic diet changes pancreatic cancer metabolism and its response to chemotherapy,” said Haiyong Han, Ph.D., a Professor in TGen’s Molecular Medicine Division, and one of the study authors and a designer of the study’s experiments.