A study by the researchers from Cumming School of Medicine (CSM), University of Calgary investigates the benefits of vitamin B3 (niacin) for cancer patients. When combined with chemotherapy, vitamin B3 improves the immune response while it attacks a brain tumor (glioblastoma) and kills it.
The study results are published in Science Translational Medicine. Click here to read the complete study findings.
Dr. Wee Yong, the first author and principal researcher of this experiment calls it; “It is a remarkable result. While it’s not a cure, it’s a promising step forward against this incurable disease.”
He also said that; “the brain tumor stem cells for glioblastoma have been very resistant to treatment, so instead of targeting those cells we targeted the immune system to help the body to attack and destroy the stem cells.”
Glioblastoma is a specific type of brain cancer that is probably the most aggressive version of brain tumors. Despite having cancer treatment with chemotherapy and radiation, many people lose their life from 14 to 16 months after being diagnosed with it.
Glioblastomas or GBM) are generally a malignant type of Grade IV tumors, and these tumor cells are always dividing. They are typically located in the cerebral hemispheres of the human brain, but they can be formed at any part of the brain. Patients with growing glioblastomas inside them often quickly exhibit symptoms. It adds more pressure to the brain cells leading to the patient suffer from nausea, vomiting and extreme head pain. This pain goes worse in the morning and reduces as the day passes.
Some patients may also experience certain neurological symptoms but they majorly depend on the tumor’s site. Some of these symptoms include weakness, seizure, the chance of balance, memory loss, sensory changes of face, etc.
Typically, one of the many reasons that cancer kills people is that it completely takes over the immune system and re-programs it to spread the infection to the whole body. In this particular study, the researchers studied how vitamin B3 (niacin) improves the treatment of cancer patients. As a combination therapy, along with a chemotherapy drug “temozolomide” which is used for glioblastoma treatment, it helps to reduce cancer spread.
Dr. Susobhan Sarkar commented on it as; “We were able to help immune cells do what they’re supposed to do, attack and kill cancer cells. We screened 1,040 compounds and found niacin had the properties needed to activate immune cells, specifically myeloid cells, and inhibit the growth of brain tumor-initiating stem cells.”
This study was supported by Alberta Innovates along with the Alberta Cancer Foundation and the HBI and funded by a research grant which was donated by the Ronald and Irene Ward Foundation and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has already given more funding to this project to make this research into studying clinical trials.
Dr. Wee Yong says; “We are very fortunate to have the support of the CIHR. We still require approvals from Health Canada and ethics. It’s extremely important to follow strict protocols and conduct a clinical trial first, even though this treatment involves two well-known, existing therapies. Its important people don’t rush out and try adding niacin on their own, as we need to confirm dosage, delivery and length of time for optimal clinical results.”
Glioblastomas make nearly 15% of all primary level brain tumors in humans. Men are at more risk of developing glioblastomas than women.