One of the many researchers the Leukemia Research Foundation once funded has had recent success in finding a cure for leukemia! Read the story below:
Pitting avocados against leukemia stem cells
A Guelph food science researcher is getting $100,000 from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research to fund investigations into using an avocado compound as a possible treatment for leukemia.
Paul Spagnuolo discovered that Avocatin B, a compound mainly found in avocado pits can kill leukemia stem cells in 2015.
“Getting funds to do any type of research is a reason to celebrate,” said Spagnuolo told CBC News.
The funding will further his research by allowing his lab to use better equipment and collaborate with cancer researchers from the University of Toronto, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Ottawa University and McMaster University.
Spagnuolo’s lab tested more than 800 natural compounds for their ability to kill leukemia stem cells and discovered Avocatin B was the most potent and only targeted cancer cells.
Avocatin B kills leukemia stem cells by stopping fatty acid oxidation in the cells, a process necessary for the cancer cell to digest fat as a fuel source in order to live and grow.
“Our cells can utilize glucose primarily and some other parts, but leukemia cells are rewired so that if you inhibit the oxidation process, they will die,” he said.
Spagnulo and his lab are now looking to develop a way to detect whether or not Avocatin B is circulating in the blood and bone marrow.
Leukemia cells live in the bloodstream or bone marrow, so it’s important for the drug to make it to those parts to kill the cancer cells.
“We want to be able to detect our drug inside the blood so that we can understand how we can formulate products better to get our product into the blood,” said Spagnuolo.
Moving forward, Spagnuolo’s lab will have to report to OICR quarterly, it’s a condition of the funding which is spread over two years and has the possibility of renewal for another two years.
“(It’s) a lot more intense than I anticipated, but I think the key here is it’s very results oriented,” said Spagnuolo, “There’s no complacency here.”
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