Study: LDL, omega-3 nano-strategy eliminates liver cancer cells in rats

UT Southwestern's Ian Corbin

There's been a considerable amount of controversy over the past decade whether omega-3 fatty acids can actually promote better health and guard against cancer. But a researcher at UT Southwestern says he has developed a nanoparticle treatment out of LDL and omega-3 that was able to eliminate liver cancer cells in rats while leaving healthy cells unharmed.

Cancer, of course, has been cured in rodents time and again in studies that couldn't be successfully reproduced in humans. But Ian Corbin, an assistant professor in the Advanced Imaging Research Center (AIRC) and of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern, says that injecting LDL-DHA nanoparticles into an artery that feeds the liver proved toxic for at least some of the cancerous liver cells in the rat model for the disease. And he adds that there's no certainty that the therapeutic strategy could eliminate all the cancer cells.

In studying the impact of the therapy, the investigators on the team observed that tumors were smaller and weaker in the drug arm, and far more robust among the placebo arm.

There's also good reason to believe that the liver cells would be susceptible to this approach.

"We knew that cancer cells like to take up LDL in order to acquire cholesterol and other lipids to help build their cell membranes as they proliferate. So what we have here is a classic example of a Trojan horse. The cancer cell thinks it's getting cholesterol to provide the nutritional building blocks needed to grow and proliferate. Instead, it gets a payload of fish oil in the form of LDL-DHA nanoparticles that are selectively toxic to cancer cells without harming normal liver cells," he said.

- here's the release

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