Pacific cod protein may slow down cancers from spreading

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have identified a peptide, or protein, derived from Pacific cod that may inhibit prostate cancer and possibly other cancers from spreading,

“The use of natural dietary products with anti-tumor activity is an important and emerging field of research,” senior author Hafiz Ahmed, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and scientist at the Institute for Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) said.

“Understanding how these products work could allow us to develop foods that also act as cancer therapeutics and agents for immunotherapy,” he said.

Most people who succumb to cancer die because tumor cells invade the surrounding tissue and migrate into the nearby blood and lymph vessels, a process known as metastasis.

For example, prostate cancer typically spreads to the bones, lungs and liver.

Cancer cells that metastasize to other parts of the body grow new blood supplies and eventually overcome the person’s organ systems.

“This study is among the first to explore the therapeutic utility of a bioactive cod TFD-containing glycopeptide to inhibit prostate cancer from progressing,” Dr. Ahmed, who also is affiliated with the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center said.

The TFD (Thomsen-Friedenreich disaccharide) antigen in the fish protein is hidden in normal human cells but is exposed on the surface of cancer cells and is believed to play a key role in how cancer spreads.

The research is published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). [Full paper]

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