Acute lymphoblastic leukemia cannot tolerate a weightless diet

Talking not so long ago about the secrets of a protein-free diet, we wrote that its essence is to limit the amount of certain amino acids in food, including the amino acid valine. If you limit the level of valine (and isoleucine), there is a real chance of losing weight, and this seems to be confirmed not only by experiments on mice, but also by clinical observations.

An even more serious argument against valine is in a recent article in Nature employees New York Universitywho experimented with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells (acute lymphoblastic leukemias are the most common malignant diseases in children and young people). Researchers studied the biochemical characteristics of leukemia and tried to figure out which nutrients it especially needs. Human malignant cells were transplanted into specially modified mice to develop leukemia. And it turned out that if such mice are kept on a valine-free diet, then after three weeks the development of the disease stops: the number of leukemic cells in the blood drops by half, and in some mice they disappear altogether. But if valine is again introduced into the feed, leukemia wakes up.

At the molecular level, T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia depends on a multifunctional gene NOTCH1… Oncogenic mutations in NOTCH1 among other things, they increase the level of transport RNA (tRNA), which transports the amino acid valine to protein-synthesizing machines. For each amino acid, there are transport RNAs that simultaneously hold their amino acid and combine with a triplet in messenger RNA – the three genetic letters that encode this amino acid. Without tRNA, there will be no protein synthesis. Leukemic cells need a large amount of one of the mitochondrial proteins, for the synthesis of which, in turn, a lot of valine is needed. Therefore, the mutation in NOTCH1, which stimulates the synthesis of transport valine RNA, is very useful for leukemic cells. Malignant cells can be affected by reducing the amount of valine tRNAs – or by reducing the amount of valine itself so that they have nothing to transport.

It is possible that other types of malignant cells can be influenced in the same way. If we talk about leukemia, then there are more or less effective drugs against them; it is possible that their efficacy can be greatly enhanced by accompanying therapy with a diet low in valine. True, it is worth remembering that valine is needed not only for malignant cells: a lack of valine has a bad effect on the brain and muscles, so the level of valine in a therapeutic diet must be calculated very accurately so as not to damage healthy tissues.

Source: Автономная некоммерческая организация "Редакция журнала «Наука и жизнь»" by

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