Fish Oil supplements may hold a key to treating CML leukemia

January 05, 2012

     Fish Oils predominantly supplies two very important omega three fatty acids commonly referred to using the abbreviations EPA and DHA. DHA has its strongest impact on the brain, eyes, and nerve tissue. The second ingredient EPA helps coordinate immune system function by reducing out of control inflammation. EPA achieves this by influencing the creation of particular prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are a family of unsaturated fatty acids that we make that work like hormones mostly affecting the immune system (especially inflammation), muscle tissue, blood pressure, and body temperature.

In this study it was found that EPA triggers the release of a prostaglandin known as Delta-12-Prostaglandin J3 in laboratory animals. Researchers from Penn State University each day for a week injected mice with CML (chronic myelogenous leukemia) a very tiny amount of the prostaglandin D12-PGJ3 that EPA from fish oils creates.

The Prostaglandin D12-PGJ3 had the ability to selectively target and kill the leukemia causing stem cells in their spleen and bone marrow. It did this by activating as gene known as p53 in the leukemia stem cells that programs the cells own death (p53 is a tumor suppressing gene).

Killing the stem cells in leukemia, a cancer of the white blood cells, is important because stem cells can divide and produce more cancer cells as well as create more stem cells. The important thing is the mice were completely cured of leukemia with no relapse.

The current treatment for CML extends the patient’s life by keeping the number of leukemia cells low but fails to completely cure the disease because it does not target leukemia stem cells. The patients must continuously take the drugs because if they stop the stem cells will cause relapse (the re-growth of the cancer).  The researchers published their work in the journal Blood.