Vitamin A shows activity against liver cancer

A specific retinoid derived from vitamin A (retinol) shows high efficacy for the destruction of cancer cells and entry into remission in liver cancer . This shows a study by one of the largest research institutes in Japan, hoping to develop effective cancer treatment methods.

The activity of the vitamin A derivative is traced to people diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma – the most common form of liver cancer.

It was found that the retinoid in question attacks cancer cells at a very early stage of their development when they are referred to as primary or stem cell cancer cells. Neutralizing them at such an early stage helps to maintain liver cancer in remission and to prevent its relapse by forming new tumor structures.

Hepatocellular carcinoma is one of the most difficult to treat forms of cancer. Disease is usually managed successfully with surgery, but the incidence of recurrence is among the highest of all forms of cancer. This fact is forcing scientists to seek funds for the prevention  of relapse and consider that such funds will help the lasting remission of the disease. The discovery of Japanese scientists is a big step towards this goal.

The mechanism of anticancer action of retinoid is expressed in suppressing the expression of DNA in cancer cells. The study showed that it inhibits specific gene activity (MYCN), which is key to the activity of damaged cells. This effect slows the proliferation of primary cancer cells and pooling them into groups that initiate the tumor formations. Thus, a common effect is achieved to slow the progression of cancer, and it can be successfully maintained in remission. How long it may be – it’s about to be clear from further research by the Japanese team. There is, however, hope that the control over liver cancer can be lasting.

Current methods of treating hepatocellular carcinoma include operative intervention and subsequent prolonged chemotherapy for relapse prevention. However, liver cancer cells are highly resistant to chemotherapy, and the reintroduction of the disease can hardly be avoided only. Therefore, it may be that the retinoid studied by Japanese scientists will act as a more effective preventative of chemotherapy in the fight to control liver cancer.

A third phase of the clinical trials of the product is currently underway and information is published periodically in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences .