Scientists Believe Starving Melanoma Cells Could Provide Future Treatment and Cure

cancer cells
Science & Medicine

cancer cellsMelanoma is the rarest form of skin cancer, but it’s also the deadliest. Researchers in Australia believe they may have stumbled on a new mechanism for future treatments of the deadly skin cancer, but their ideas will take years to develop. For now, other research indicates viable treatments and preventions could come from natural sources instead.

According to recent research, the new mechanism for killing melanoma cells involves starving them of their fuel—the amino acid glutamine.

While normal cells use glucose for energy to grow and proliferate, cancer cells use glutamine sucked through pumps across their surface. Melanoma cells in particular have more glutamine pumps on their surface, which the researchers found could be blocked, leading the cells to essentially starve.

“We’ve shown that if we starve melanoma of these essential nutrients, we can stop the cancer from growing,” explained lead researcher Dr. Jeff Holst.  “This involves blocking the protein pumps that move glutamine into tumor cells, which successfully slowed the growth of the tumors in cell cultures.”

The researchers hope their study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, could lead to more effective melanoma treatments in years to come.

Melanoma kills close to 10,000 people in the U.S. each year. It is one of the deadliest types of cancer. So, finding a “cure” is certainly a noble pursuit. But previous research has indicated that “cure” may be found in natural substances.

Plant Compounds, Spirulina Fight Melanoma

Last year, researchers with the Texas Biomedical Research Institute found that a plant-derived substance known as gossypin was able to stop melanoma cell proliferation in lab tests. It was also able to reduce tumor volume, inhibit growth, and increase survival rate.

Another study, from researchers in Japan, looked at the power of spirulina (an algae largely found in freshwater and considered a superfood) to activate “natural killer cells” to come to the body’s defense against invaders including melanoma cells. For their study, the researchers implanted melanoma cells in mice and then administered spirulina orally. They found the spirulina was able to help the body fight off the deadly cancer cells, which regressed under the treatment until the entire tumors were eradicated.

Spirulina is something you can get today, whether you have cancer or are looking to boost your overall health.

While scientists are striving to find the next conventional treatment that will make Big Pharma millions, we can work to inform ourselves and each other on the natural means to both prevent and treat the world’s deadliest diseases.