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Could what you eat fight cancer? Medical College of Wisconsin joins new clinical trial

"What you eat when you have cancer can either feed or stave your cancer," Anand Parikh with Faeth Therapeutics says.
Posted at 5:41 PM, Dec 05, 2022

MILWAUKEE — A new clinical trial is underway at the Medical College of Wisconsin. It takes a different approach to treat cancer and it all starts with what you eat.

When you think of cancer treatment, chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery may be top of mind, but Anand Parikh with Faeth Therapeutics believes your diet can play a major role.

"What you eat when you have cancer can either feed or stave your cancer," Parikh said.

Faeth Therapeutics was founded in 2019. It's a cancer metabolism company tailoring the right diet to the patient.

Dr. Mandana Kamgar is the lead investigator at the Medical College of Wisconsin and said this particular clinical trial is for newly diagnosed patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.

"It's mostly a diet based on fiber and based on fats," Kamgar said.

Once a patient is enrolled in the clinical trial, they wont to be able to eat items from the hospital cafe like roast beef and cheese because animal protein is being stripped from their diet.

The diet depletes the patient from serine, glycine, and proline. Those amino acids are commonly found in animal proteins such as cheese and red meat.

"The diet removes portions of the diet that would not impact the normal body but theoretically would starve the cancer cells and make them susceptible to other treatment," Kamgar said. "We believe we can take it out of the diet, hurt the tumor but not hurt the healthy tissue in the rest of the body," Parikh added.

While the diet strips patients of certain nutrients, it's replenished through a concoction made by Faeth.

"We then add back protein through purified amino acids you eat your meal and with each meal you get a sachet that you stir into a glass of water that provides protein components," Parikh said.

Kamgar encourages patients to try a clinical trial because it can gain ground and bring advances in the fight against cancer.

"Chemo has a certain amount, it can kill the cancer cell. The idea is hopefully with the use of this diet that increases," Kamgar said.

Parikh said clinical trials are underway across the country for pancreatic, colorectal, endometrial, and ovarian cancers. He believes precision medicine will starve tumors of nutrients and become an effective part of cancer treatment.

Medical College of Wisconsin is only doing the pancreatic cancer clinical trial. Kamgar said the trial is enrolling now.

To learn more about this clinical trial, visit Froedtert's website.

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