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Olive oil boosts effectiveness of trastuzumab

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Oleic acid, the main fatty acid in olive oil, dramatically suppresses the HER-2 oncogene and boosts the effectiveness of the monoclonal antibody trastuzumab according to in vitro studies that shed more light on the benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

Scientists in the US and Spain report in the January 10th online issue of the Annals of Oncology that flow cytometric analysis demonstrates that oleic acid significantly down-regulates the expression of this breast cancer oncogene.”To our knowledge this is the first report that a dietary monounsaturated fatty acid previously suggested to be protective against breast cancer significantly down-regulates the expression of Her-2/neu, cutting it by up to 46%,” lead researcher, Javier Menendez, from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, noted in a statement.”Moreover, in our tests, oleic acid’s inhibition of Her-2/neu synergistically interacted with Herceptin-based immunotherapy by promoting the death of breast cancer cells exhibiting high levels of the oncogene,” he continued.”Our findings underpin epidemiological studies that show that the Mediterranean diet has significant protective effects against cancer, heart disease and ageing, ” Dr. Menendez added.The researchers suggest that supplementation with oleic acid might be a promising dietary intervention to prevent or treat Her-2/neu-overexpressing breast carcinomas, especially if combined with novel therapies like Herceptin.The combination of oleic acid with Herceptin “induces a dramatic increase in the sensitivity of Her-2/neu-overexpressing breast cancer cells to trastuzumab-induced cell growth inhibition…and the nature of the interaction was found to be synergistic at clinically relevant trastuzumab concentrations,” they write.”Importantly, exogenous supplementation with oleic acid synergistically enhanced the ability of trastuzumab to induce down-regulation of p185Her-2/neu,” the team added.”Moreover, the concurrent exposure to oleic acid and trastuzumab was synergistically cytotoxic towards Her-2/neu-overexpressors by promoting DNA fragmentation associated with apoptotic cell death.””Additionally, alongside the sensitising effect of oleic acid on the efficacy of Herceptin we found it increased the expression of a protein (p27Kip1), a tumour suppresser protein, which is implicated in the development of resistance to Herceptin treatment.”The scientists said they now want to identify the ultimate molecular mechanism through which oleic acid supplementation inhibits the expression of Her-2/neu, as its blocking action appears to work in a different way from that of Herceptin.”The concentrations of [oleic acid] used in our in vitro study can be achieved by dietary interventions,” Dr. Menendez told Reuters. A study to examine such dietary interventions is currently being planned by researchers at the Institut Catala d’Oncologia in Girona, Spain, he added.They are also discussing the “possibility of monitoring erbB-2 (Her-2/neu) levels and clinical responses to anti-erbB-2 strategies and then to analyze these data in the context of the dietary habits of the patients.”(Source: Ann Oncol 2005: Reuters Health: Oncolink: January 2005.)

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Posted On: 13 January, 2005
Modified On: 16 January, 2014

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