Investigating n-3 PUFAs for potential adjuvant therapy in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia

Treatments for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) typically involve chemotherapy, usually in combination with steroids. There remains a need to develop novel therapies or enhance existing approaches to treatment, especially in patients with relapsed disease.

A link between inflammation and cancer is established. Whereas acute inflammation is perceived as a physiologic protective response to injury, chronic inflammation has been found to mediate a wide range of diseases, including cancers. Chronic inflammation is known to be important as a moderator of tumorigenesis, affecting cellular processes of survival, proliferation, invasion, angiogenesis, metastasis and influencing responses to chemo- and radio-therapies. In addition, inflammation is considered to be a risk factor for the development of many types of cancers. Thus, there is a potential to employ anti-inflammatory agents to suppress NFκB or NFκB-regulated products for the adjuvant treatment of cancers.

Marine n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), typically derived by humans from consuming fish oils have received much attention for their anti-inflammatory properties and completely safe adjuvant therapeutic potential. There is already strong epidemiological evidence linking fish oil consumption with low incidence of cancers. Anticancer actions of n-3 PUFAs are poorly understood but a number of studies have demonstrated synergistic effects of n-3 PUFAs, particularly DHA, delivered as conjugates with a variety of anticancer drugs, improving drug efficacy by enhancing cellular uptake. The broad aim of the project is to investigate cytotoxic effects in human leukaemic cells of the n-3 PUFAs, EPA, DHA and a key metabolite Resolvin D1, alone and in combination with chemotherapeutic agents used for ALL treatment.

Grant Award – Kidscan Placement Student (2015-2016)
Funding Award – £2,000
Funding Awarded To – Dr Jeremy Allan
Research Location – University of Salford
Lead Researcher – Dr Jeremy Allan