Today Penn State researchers announced that they have discovered a compound in fish oil that appears to target leukemia stem cells and could lead to a cure.
“Holy fish oil Batman!”
Past research with fatty acids shows that they have a positive effect on cardiovascular system and brain development, particularly in infants. The Penn State team tested the compound (that comes from an Omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil) in mouse models with leukemia. The treated mice showed no sign of the disease; their enlarged spleens returned to normal size and they did not relapse.
The fish oil compound goes after leukemic stem cells, the shy cells that divide and create more leukemia cells. Specifically the compound turns on a gene in these trouble-makers that triggers cell death.
The next step is to determine if this compound can produce results in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients who are in the terminal phase of their disease. Currently, there are no treatments for patients who have reached this stage in their disease.
To see photos associated with this story, visit http://live.psu.edu/flickrset/72157628487863221.