Home Medizin Erforschung der Rolle von Vitamin B6 bei der Bekämpfung von Bauchspeicheldrüsenkrebs und dem Immunsystem

Erforschung der Rolle von Vitamin B6 bei der Bekämpfung von Bauchspeicheldrüsenkrebs und dem Immunsystem

von NFI Redaktion

Vitamin B6 plays a crucial role in maintaining a strong immune system. However, in the case of pancreatic cancer, the cancer cells also require Vitamin B6 to proliferate. The ensuing competition for limited Vitamin B6 supply almost always favors pancreatic cancer. A researcher at the College of Medicine, University of Oklahoma is pursuing a promising trail of clues to reverse this reality.

Dr. Kamiya Mehla, an Associate Professor of Oncology at the OU College of Medicine and researcher at the OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center, is investigating ways to boost the body’s immune system against invaders like pancreatic cancer. Her research has attracted the attention of funding organizations, receiving grants totaling $2.6 million from the National Institutes of Health and the US Department of Defense last year.

In a recent publication in the journal Cancer Discovery, Mehla details the role of Vitamin B6 in healthy individuals and in the presence of pancreatic cancer. While Vitamin B6, found in various foods like poultry, fish, and bananas, supports immune system cells including natural killer (NK) cells, which are the first responders to threats like cancer and colds, these NK cells are notably absent in pancreatic cancer due to cancer cells consuming all the Vitamin B6 they require for their function.

Pancreatic cancer is very difficult to treat, with only 11% of diagnosed individuals surviving five years. It is crucial for researchers to explore pancreatic cancer from multiple perspectives to develop new treatment methods. My lab focuses on the role of Vitamin B6 because we know it strengthens the immune system, but we need to understand more about how it affects cancer cells. We hope our work opens up new avenues for developing novel treatments for pancreatic cancer.“

Dr. Kamiya Mehla, Associate Professor of Oncology, OU College of Medicine

In her lab, Mehla found that increasing Vitamin B6 intake still did not help the NK cells – in fact, pancreatic cancer cells grew stronger when they could absorb additional nutrients. She investigated the mechanisms through which cancer cells consume Vitamin B6 and developed a three-part strategy to counteract this. The first step involves reducing the expression of a specific gene to block the pathway through which cancer cells uptake Vitamin B6, the second step involves administering more Vitamin B6, and the third step involves a therapy to enhance NK cell function, similar to maintaining an engine. When tested on mice, this strategy reduced the number of pancreatic cancer cells.

„This was an encouraging discovery,“ Mehla stated, „and it is crucial to know because the immune system must be strong for other treatments like chemotherapy to be effective. A therapy will not work if the immune system is not able to contribute its part.“

Mehla plans to continue her research in this area and expand into related topics. Since pancreatic cancer causes issues with absorbing more nutrients throughout the body, she will investigate how a deficiency in Vitamin B6 impacts other organs, particularly the liver in the presence of cancer cells. She is also examining whether a Vitamin B6 deficiency contributes to the development of cachexia, a muscle-wasting disease commonly affecting individuals with pancreatic cancer.

The Department of Defense is funding Mehla’s research on cachexia. With military personnel being exposed to hazards like radiation and chemical toxins, they have an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer as they age. In addition to cancer itself, cachexia impairs the quality of life for many war veterans, according to Mehla.

„When patients experience such drastic muscle loss, they are less likely to respond to treatment,“ she said. „Pancreatic cancer is a systemic disease. It doesn’t just sit there. It tries to extract nutrients from multiple areas to help it survive. That’s why it’s important to take a comprehensive look at how we can stimulate the immune system against tumors.“


Journal Reference:

Er, C., et al. (2024). Competition for Vitamin B6 in the Tumor Microenvironment Impairs Antitumor Functions of NK Cells. Cancer Discovery. doi.org/10.1158/2159-8290.cd-23-0334.

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