Products of omega-3 fatty acid metabolism may have anticancer effects, study shows

Comparative biosciences professor Aditi Das and veterinary clinical medicine professor Timothy Fan found that a class of molecules that form when the body metabolizes omega-3 fatty acids may prevent cancer from migrating. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A class of molecules formed when the body metabolizes omega-3 fatty acids could inhibit cancer’s growth and spread, University of Illinois researchers report in a new study in mice. The molecules, called endocannabinoids, are made naturally by the body and have similar properties to cannabinoids found in marijuana – but without the psychotropic effects.

In mice with tumors of osteosarcoma – a bone cancer that is notoriously painful and difficult to treat – endocannabinoids slowed the growth of tumors and blood vessels, inhibited the cancer cells from migrating and caused cancer cell death. The results were published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

“We have a built-in endocannabinoid system which is anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing. Now we see it is also anti-cancer, stopping the cells from proliferating or migrating,” said study leader Aditi Das, a professor of comparative biosciences and an affiliate of biochemistry at Illinois. “These molecules could address multiple problems: cancer, inflammation and pain.”

Editor’s notes: To reach Aditi Das, call 217-244-0630; email: aditidas@illinois.edu. To reach Timothy Fan, call (217) 333-5375; email t-fan@illinois.edu.

The paper “Antitumorigenic properties of omega-3 endocannabinoid epoxides” is available online or from the News Bureau.

Source: Illinois News Bureau

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Products of omega-3 fatty acid metabolism may have anticancer effects, study shows
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Products of omega-3 fatty acid metabolism may have anticancer effects, study shows
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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A class of molecules formed when the body metabolizes omega-3 fatty acids could inhibit cancer’s growth and spread, University of Illinois researchers report in a new study in mice. The molecules, called endocannabinoids, are made naturally by the body and have similar properties to cannabinoids found in marijuana – but without the psychotropic effects.