There is a diet for leukemia

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Last reviewed: 12.03.2022

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18 January 2022, 09:00

If you stop the intake of the amino acid valine, then the course of the acute form of T-cell lymphoblastic leukemia is almost completely blocked, which was observed in the course of an experiment performed on rodents.

The study of protein amino acids is a popular task for scientists around the world. In a recent study, scientists from New York University were able to discover an important property of valine, an aliphatic α-amino acid, one of the twenty proteinogenic amino acids found in many known proteins. Specialists studied the structures of T-cell lymphoblastic leukemia : we are talking about a common malignant pathology that affects mainly children and young people. The biological and chemical features of the acute disease were studied. And the immediate goal of scientists was to elucidate trophic processes and determine substances that are especially important for the development of a malignant process.

In the course of experimental work, malignant structures were transplanted from humans into modified rodents. Subsequently, the mice predictably developed leukemia. As a result, it was found that if the rodents adhered to a valine-free diet, then for three weeks the progression of the disease was completely blocked, and the number of malignant cells in the circulatory system decreased by at least 50%, or they disappeared altogether. But against the background of the resumption of the use of valine with food, leukemia resumed again.

According to the basic molecular processes, the acute form of T-cell lymphoblastic leukemia is dependent on the multifunctional NOTCH1 gene. Malignant changes in the gene increase the levels of tRNA (transport ribonucleic acid, which ensures the interaction of the ribosome, amino acid and messenger RNA during translation). It is tRNA that transports valine to protein-synthesizing mechanisms.

Each amino acid has its own tRNA that holds a particular amino acid and combines with a triplex combination of messenger RNA. In the absence of transfer RNA, protein synthesis cannot occur. Malignant structures of leukemia require a large amount of mitochondrial protein, and for its production in the right amount, valine is needed - in the appropriate amount. Therefore, malignant cells are in dire need of NOTCH1 mutations that activate the production of valine tRNAs. To influence leukemic structures, it is enough to reduce the number of valine transport RNAs, or to reduce the level of valine itself, which will break the transport chain.

It is likely that a similar scheme is applicable to malignant pathologies of other types. So far, scientists can only talk about leukemia: with a high degree of probability, the effectiveness of treatment can be supplemented and potentiated if the patient adheres to a diet that restricts the intake of valine in the body. By the way, the complete exclusion of valine is not recommended, since the deficiency of the amino acid adversely affects the state of the brain and muscles.

Scientists published the full information on the page of the journal Nature.

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