Biologists in the US claim to have identified an alternative diet-based method that they say can significantly help decrease the growth of brain tumours.
The diet identified by Boston College biology professor Tom Seyfried and other researchers is KetoCal, a commercially available high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet designed to treat epilepsy in children, reported the online edition of health magazine 'WebMD'.
The treatment does not involve administering toxic chemicals, radiation or invasive surgery, the researchers say after studying its impact on mice.
The researcher surgically implanted two different kinds of tumours into the brains of male mice. The mice were then divided into three groups.
One group was fed a high-carbohydrate mouse chow, one was given unlimited amounts of KetoCal and the third group was given KetoCal in a restricted dosage.
The researchers found that in the mice on the restricted diet, KetoCal decreased the growth of brain tumours by between 35 percent and 65 percent. Also, survival rates were higher in the mice on the restricted diet.
Malignant brain cancer is one of the most lethal types of cancer in adults and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among children.
Many current ways of treating the disease fail to provide long-term management because they ineffectively target tumour cells and harm the health and vitality of normal brain cells.
The KetoCal diet gets around this dilemma by essentially starving the brain tumour cells of the sugary molecules on which they rely for growth and survival.
Because of its special composition, the diet deprives the tumour cells of the glucose they need; at the same time, the diet provides normal brain cells with ketones, a class of organic compounds they can metabolize effectively but the tumour cells cannot, the researchers said.