An omega-3 that’s poison for cancer tumors

In the framework of a collaborative program with IREC partners, LIBST researchers have demonstrated that highly unsaturated fatty acids specifically poison cancer cells facing the acidic micro-environment generated inside solid tumours. In 2016, Olivier Feron and Cyril Corbet (IREC) highlighted that these cells replace glucose with fatty acids as an energy source. The same team demonstrated in 2020 that this same cells are the most aggressive and acquire the ability to leave the original tumour to generate metastases. Emeline Dierge (a PhD student supervised by Olivier Feron and Yvan Larondelle (LIBST)) then provided different cancer cell lines with various fatty acids and observed that several of them and more particularly the well-known long-chain omega-3 fatty acid named docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), completely destroy the cancer cells under acidosis, through a cell death mechanism called ferroptosis. This was demonstrated both in classical 2D cell culture conditions but also using 3D spheroids. Experiments with mice fed on a DHA-rich diet showed similar promising results in vivo.

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Published on June 14, 2021