Health In Focus
  • Tumor cells need glucose to grow and enlarge in size. By reducing the amount of glucose available for tumor cells their growth and progression can be prevented
  • Mannose, a sugar molecule blocks the metabolism of glucose so that cancer cells are deprived of glucose and tumor growth is reduced. Also tumor response to chemotherapy agents is much better.
  • Giving the right dosage of mannose is important so that availability of glucose for the activity of normal cells is not affected and the health of the person remains stable

Mannose, a sugar molecule is able to retard tumor progression and improve response to anti-cancer drugs, according to a recent study conducted in the UK. It does this by interfering with the metabolism of glucose and decreasing the amount of glucose available for tumor cells. The study was sponsored by Cancer Research UK and Worldwide Cancer Research and the findings of the study appear in the journal Nature.
Sugar Supplement as Potential Treatment for Cancer

Role of Mannose in Slowing Tumor Growth

The current research was a lab study involving mice to determine the role of mannose in slowing down the growth of cancer cells.
  • Mannose was given administered orally by adding to the drinking water of mice having skin, lung or pancreatic tumors
  • Mice given mannose showed a considerable reduction in size and growth of the tumor without any noticeable adverse effects
  • Effect of mannose on cancer treatment was also assessed by giving mannose to mice treated with doxorubicin and cisplatin.
  • Tumor response to chemotherapy agents was much better after administration of mannose with a decrease in the size of the tumor, and slow tumor growth as well as improved survival

Professor Kevin Ryan, lead author from the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, said: "Tumors need a lot of glucose to grow, so limiting the amount they can use should slow cancer progression. The problem is that normal tissues need glucose as well, so we can't completely remove it from the body. In our study, we found a dosage of mannose that could block enough glucose to slow tumor growth in mice, but not so much that normal tissues were affected. This is early research, but it is hoped that finding this perfect balance means that, in the future, mannose could be given to cancer patients to enhance chemotherapy without damaging their overall health."

Reason for Mixed Response to Mannose in Some Tumor Cells

The scientists also tested other cancer types including ovary, bowel, blood and bone cancers and response of these tumors to mannose. They cultivated these tumor cells in the lab and added mannose to the cells to analyze the anti-tumor effect.
  • Some of the cells showed a decrease in tumor size and growth while other cells failed to show a similar effect
  • The team found that the amounts of an enzyme within cells used to break down mannose could determine whether mannose is effective in reducing tumor size and growth
Prof Kevin Ryan says, "Our next step is investigating why treatment only works in some cells so that we can work out which patients might benefit the most from this approach. We hope to start clinical trials with mannose in people as soon as possible to determine its true potential as a new cancer therapy."

About Mannose

Mannose is a simple sugar that is present naturally in cranberries and several fruits. It is widely used as a form of treatment for infections of the urinary tract. Its use as an anti-cancer agent in human needs further research and study.

The study team have found their initial results promising and hope it can help cancer patients in the future although further research and studies are necessary before it can be tried on humans. The team cautions that patients should avoid taking mannose supplements as the side effects are not known and they should speak to a health professional before altering their diet or trying new supplements.

In future, mannose can be given to cancer patients to enhance chemotherapy without damaging their overall health.

Reference :

  1. Mannose impairs tumour growth and enhances chemotherapy - (

Source: Medindia

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