I am a medical oncologist specialized in breast and gynecologic cancers (H. S. Kaplan Cancer Center, Tours University Hospital, France), and I am presently preparing my PhD thesis at the INSERM unit U921, in Tours, France.
My field of interest is the manipulation of tumor fatty acid composition with dietary n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) to enhance tumors’sensitivity to anticancer treatments. My current work at the INSERM unit U921 (Tours, France) is aimed at experimentaly (rodent model) defining the conditions to appropriately transfer this approach to cancer patients.
The INSERM unit U921 (director Pr Philippe Bougnoux) has markedly contributed to develop the approach of tumor sensitization to anticancer treatments with n-3 LCPUFA.
n-3 LCPUFA are nutrients mainly provided by diet in products of marine origin. Tumor cells are believed to incorporate these fatty acids in their membrane phospholipids as structural components. Our laboratory has found that enrichment of tumor cells with n-3 LCPUFA increase the sensitivity of these cells to anthracyclins (Germain et al, 1998). This effect has been observed in a variety of cancer cell lines. Using a dietary supplementation with LCPUFA, it has been possible to make mammary tumors sensitive to chemotherapy in rodents (Colas et al, 2006). The chemosensitizing effect of n-3 LCPUFA involves a variety of mechanisms such as enhanced oxidative stress, apoptosis, interference with drug uptake, alteration of the PI3K/Akt, RAS or HER-2 pathways (Biondo et al, 2008).
We and others are currently evaluating this approach in clinical trials. Two pilot studies based on this approach have already been published, one in advanced breast cancer patients at Tours University Hospital (Bougnoux et al, 2009) and the other in lung cancer patients by a Canadian team (Murphy et al, 2011).