The keto diet is proving to be more than just another “It” diet touted by Goop with interesting research showing that it may have a place in cancer treatment.
Eating a keto diet puts the body in a state of ketogenesis where instead of running off glucose based energy, the body is fueled by fats and proteins. These fats and proteins are broken down into ketones. Unlike healthy cells, most cancer cells are poor metabolisers of ketones and depend on glucose for their energy requirements. Eating a keto focused diet is thought to essentially starve the cells of fuel.
Oncology focused drug development company Kazia Therapeutics (ASX: KZA) is exploring the interesting anti-cancer properties of the keto diet in conjunction with their investigational new drug, paxalisib for the treatment of brain cancer.
The Company is undertaking a phase II clinical study to evaluate the efficacy of the drug and diet in collaboration with Cornell University in the United States.
The two year long study will include approximately 32 patients with room for expansion should signals of activity be observed. The primary endpoint is progression-free survival at six months.
Pre-clinical data produced by Professor Lew Cantley showing that ketogenesis may enhance anti- cancer activity is the basis for the study which hopes to provide more options for patients with tumours resistant to the current standard of care drug. Professor Cantley will act as the scientific advisor for the trial.
Founding Director of the Brain Tumour Centre at the New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Centre, Dr. Howard Fine, will act as the Principal Investigator. Kazia will provide the study drug and financial support.
Dr. Fine commented: “Glioblastoma remains an immensely challenging disease, and we need the most potent array of tools at our disposal in order to treat it. My lab has extensive experience of translational research in this area, and I am excited to explore the potential for a brain- penetrant PI3K inhibitor in combination with ketogenesis.”
Professor Cantley, scientific advisor to the study said: “ The interplay between the PI3K pathways, insulin signalling, and tumour growth has been a focus of scientific interest for some time now. Our research clearly shows the synergistic benefits of PI3K inhibition and ketosis in animal models of glioblastoma. This is an important project, designed to verify these laboratory findings in the human setting.”
Recruitment for study participants will commence by the end of CY2021. Initiation of this study will bring the number of ongoing clinical studies of paxalisib in glioblastoma to nine.