Anti-cancer vaccine may also tackle bad diet ‘vicious cycle’

Image courtesy of Dale Cruse

It’s something that’s been experienced by almost anyone who has tried to go on diet – the moment you eat something you’re not supposed to, the more you have a craving for it.  Researchers at CureLab Oncology Inc. call it’s the “vicious cycle of a bad diet,” and they believe an anti-cancer medication could break it.

A paper produced by the team proposes that a new biological agent developed the CureLab may prevent and alleviate diet-induced disorders. The researchers reported that the company’s Elenagen anti-cancer vaccine is able to reduce chronic inflammation which causes chemical alterations in the brain which triggers a craving for fatty foods. CureLab is a Boston based private biotechnology company developing biological agents against cancer and chronic inflammation.

The findings could have beneficial implications for research being therapy and treatments for people suffering conditions affected by diet, according to Dr. Alexander Shneider, founder of CureLab and the senior author of the paper. For example, restoring serotonin and MAO levels are mechanisms of action of antidepressant drugs.

“We hope that in few years we would bring to market a novel agent against type 2 diabetes and metabolic disorders as well as diseases accompanying diabetes and metabolic syndromes such as heart diseases, depression, or psoriasis,” he said. “All of them are dependent on chronic inflammation.”

The CureLab team of American, Ukrainian, Italian, and Russian scientists hypothesized that, by reducing chronic inflammation, Elenagen would break the vicious cycle reducing the negative effects of excessive diets.

Experimental testing has supported the hypothesis.

The work was performed on rats fed a normal diet or high fat, high-calorie food. Consumption of the unhealthy food resulted in metabolic misbalance, metabolic misbalance induced chronic inflammation, and chronic inflammation led to chemical alterations in the brain. Brain levels of the “satiety sensor”, serotonin, were reduced while the serotonin-degrading enzyme, MAO, was elevated. As a result, animals consuming fatty food had to eat more and their body mass index grew significantly quicker. This, in turn, further exacerbates metabolic dysfunction – a positive feedback loop.

The researchers administered Elenagen to lab rats while simultaneously feeding animals with high-calorie diet improved their metabolic parameters (levels of glucose, insulin, HbA1c, glucose tolerance), reduced chronic inflammation (less pro-inflammatory and more anti-inflammatory cytokines), and partially normalized levels of serotonin and MAO.

Animals receiving Elenagen consumed less food and did not increase their body mass index to the same extent as rats receiving the same diet with no drug treatment.

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