New breakthrough in the treatment of cancer has hit upon the effectivenss of a certain omega-3 fatty acid (found in fish oils) which has shown some promise in reducing the size of tumours. It can also enhance the benefits of chemotherapy drug cisplatin, while cutting down on its harmful side effects.
A. M. El-Mowafy, a professor at Mansoura University in Egypt, studied the effects of the fatty acid Docosahexanoic acid (DHA) on solid tumours growing in mice.
The researcher also studied how this fatty acid interacts with the drug cisplatin, which is known to cause kidney damage.
El-Mowafy said: "DHA elicited prominent chemopreventive effects on its own, and appreciably augmented those of cisplatin as well. Furthermore, this study is the first to reveal that DHA can obliterate lethal cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity and renal tissue injury."
Cold-water fish oil and some vegetable oils are known to be rich in DHA.
This fatty acid is a major component of brain grey matter and of the retina in most mammalian species.
It is considered to be essential for normal neurological and cellular developments.
The authors said: "While DHA has been tentatively linked with protection against cardiovascular, neurological and neoplastic diseases, there exists a paucity of research information, in particular regarding its interactions with existing chemotherapy drugs".
During the study, the researchers found that DHA acts by reducing white blood cell accumulation, systemic inflammation, and oxidative stress at the molecular level.
The finding attains significance as all these processes have been linked with tumour growth.
El-Mowafy and his colleagues have called for greater deployment of omega-3 in the fight against cancer.
They write: "Our results suggest a new, fruitful drug regimen in the management of solid tumours based on combining cisplatin, and possibly other chemotherapeutics, with DHA."
The study has been published in the open access journal Cell Division.