Vitamin B2 deficiency puts cancer cells into hibernation

January 30, 2018, University of Salford

Cancer stem cells can be put into "hibernation" by a little-known drug called diphenyleneiodonium (DPI) according to researchers from the University of Salford, UK. DPI effectively switches off the cancer stem cells, preventing their proliferation.

"It's extraordinary; the just sit there as if in a state of suspended animation," explains Professor Michael Lisanti, Chair of Translational Medicine and lead investigator.

The discovery is significant because the drug halts the propagation of without causing the toxic side-effects normally associated with more conventional chemotherapy.

Reporting their laboratory findings in the journal Aging, the team observed that addition of DPI to a mixed population of cells eliminated the tumour initiating cancer stem cells. However, the drug was non-toxic for "bulk" cancer cells, which are not thought to be cancer-forming. The authors describe how DPI targets more than 90 protein enzymes which feed mitochondria and help generate the cell's energy. Specifically, DPI works as an inhibitor of vitamin B2 – riboflavin – starving the cells of the energy.

"Our observation is that DPI is selectively attacking the cancer stem cells, by effectively creating a ," explained Professor Lisanti. "In other words, by turning off energy production in cancer stem cells, we are creating a process of hibernation.

"The beauty of this is that DPI makes the cancer stem cells metabolically-inflexible, so they will be highly susceptible to a many other drugs".

Chemotherapy produces many nasty side-effects, because it helps create toxic free radicals. However, DPI did not increase .

The Salford team – which specialises in the discovery new non-toxic therapies – and has published substantially on the anti-cancer impacts of vitamin C and antibiotics—is calling the discovery the start of a new type of chemotherapy, and they even have a name for it—"mitoflavoscins."

"In terms of chemotherapies for cancer, we clearly need something better that what we have at present, and this is hopefully the beginning of an alternative approach to halting stem cells," said Professor Federica Sotgia, a co-author of the study.

Explore further: Vitamin C and antibiotics—a new one-two punch for knocking-out cancer stem cells.

More information: Bela Ozsvari et al. Targeting flavin-containing enzymes eliminates cancer stem cells (CSCs), by inhibiting mitochondrial respiration: Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) in cancer therapy, Aging (2017). DOI: 10.18632/aging.101351

Related Stories

Vitamin C and antibiotics—a new one-two punch for knocking-out cancer stem cells.

June 12, 2017
Cancer stem cells, which fuel the growth of fatal tumours, can be knocked out by a one-two combination of antibiotics and Vitamin C in a new experimental strategy, published by researchers at the University of Salford, UK.

Vitamin C effective in targeting cancer stem cells

March 8, 2017
Vitamin C is up to 10 times more effective at stopping cancer cell growth than pharmaceuticals such as 2-DG, according to scientists in Salford, UK.

Stem cell 'marking' study offers alterative hypothesis of cancer metastasis

January 18, 2017
Stem cells are among the most energetically activated, migratory and proliferative sub-populations of tumour cells, according to observations by scholars at the Biomedical Research Centre at the University of Salford.

Decongestant 'highly effective' at starving cancer cells

November 21, 2017
Cancer researchers seeking non-toxic alternatives to harmful chemotherapy are reporting a highly significant result for a humble cold remedy. N-Acetyl cysteine (NAC) is routinely used as a dietary supplement and as a decongestant ...

ONC201 may inhibit cancer stem cell self-renewals by altering their gene expression

August 2, 2017
ONC201 may inhibit cancer stem cell self-renewals by altering their gene expression, according to a study published August 2, 2017 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Varun Vijay Prabhu from Oncoceutics, Inc., USA and ...

Plant substance inhibits cancer stem cells

September 27, 2017
Lab experiments show that the chemical compound damsin found in the plant Ambrosia arborescens inhibits the growth and spread of cancer stem cells. The similar but synthetically produced ambrosin has the same positive effect, ...

Recommended for you

Mechanism that drives development of liver cancer brought on by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease discovered

April 19, 2018
A team of researchers from several institutions in China has found a mechanism that appears to drive the development of a type of liver cancer not caused by alcohol consumption. In their paper published in the journal Science ...

Discovery adds to evidence that some children are predisposed to develop leukemia

April 19, 2018
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital researchers have made a discovery that expands the list of genes to include when screening individuals for possible increased susceptibility to childhood leukemia. The finding is reported ...

Scientists identify 170 potential lung cancer drug targets using unique cellular library

April 19, 2018
After testing more than 200,000 chemical compounds, UT Southwestern's Simmons Cancer Center researchers have identified 170 chemicals that are potential candidates for development into drug therapies for lung cancer.

Chip-based blood test for multiple myeloma could make bone biopsies a relic of the past

April 19, 2018
The diagnosis and treatment of multiple myeloma, a cancer affecting plasma cells, traditionally forces patients to suffer through a painful bone biopsy. During that procedure, doctors insert a bone-biopsy needle through an ...

Study may explain why some triple-negative breast cancers are resistant to chemotherapy

April 19, 2018
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive form of the disease accounting for 12 to 18 percent of breast cancers. It is a scary diagnosis, and even though chemotherapy can be effective as standard-of-care, many ...

Protein can slow intestinal tumor growth

April 19, 2018
A new mechanism for regulating stem cells in the intestine of fruit flies has been discovered by researchers at Stockholm University. In addition, it was discovered that a certain protein can slow the growth of tumours in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.