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Omega-3 Boosts The Power of Immunotherapy to Fight Cancer

Results from a new study in mice suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may help immunotherapy and other treatments better fight cancer.

Immunotherapy, which stimulates the body’s immune system to attack cancer, has revolutionized cancer treatment, but it doesn’t work for all patients.

“Diet interventions can be powerful tools because they are relatively simple and inexpensive to implement,” says Abigail Kelly, research assistant at Harvard Medical School’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Our findings show that omega-3 supplementation has the potential to significantly improve immunotherapy and other anticancer drugs in the clinical setting.”

Research from many laboratories has indicated that omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce cancer risk, while intake of many omega-6 fatty acids may promote cancer. The sources of omega-3 are fish, nuts and seeds, while omega-6 is found in meat, eggs and other foods.

In the new studies, Kelly and lead author Dipak Panigraphy wanted to find out how diets supplemented with these fatty acids affected the antitumor activity of immune-blocking immunotherapy and anti-inflammatory therapy that inhibited the soluble epoxide enzyme (sEH). Immunotherapy is regulatory approved and used clinically, while anti-inflammatory therapy is in clinical development.

For the new study, presented at the American Society for Investigative Pathology annual meeting during the Experimental Biology (EB) 2022 meeting in Philadelphia, the researchers used modern mouse models of primary and metastatic tumors.

They started by feeding the mice a standard diet or a diet high in omega-3 or 6 for 10 days before the tumor was injected and during the studies. One week after tumor injection, mice in each diet group were started on immunotherapy, anti-inflammatory therapy, or both together or without treatment.

The researchers found that dietary supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids prevented tumor growth in mice treated with immunotherapy, an sEH inhibitor, or both. On the other hand, mice that were fed a diet rich in omega-6 and given immunotherapy experienced rapid tumor growth in certain types of tumors.

In mice that received a diet rich in omega-3 and cancer treatments, tumor growth was inhibited by up to 67% compared to mice that received no treatment and a normal diet. This indicates synergistic antitumor activity, which means that the combined effect may be greater than the sum of its parts.

“We showed for the first time that the combination of immunotherapy and anti-inflammatory therapy (sEHi) was more effective when mice were fed a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids,” explains Kelly. This is very promising because the supplements are easy to implement for cancer patients and can be added to patients who are already on immunotherapy.”

The researchers are now conducting additional studies to determine the mechanism of action of the synergistic antitumor activity of omega-3 supplementation. cancer. These new findings by Kelly and colleagues may represent a new treatment approach that has yet to be tested in humans.

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