Why does blood cancer (leukemia) grow faster?
Leukemia is a type of blood cancer, which usually occurs in young children and young people. Leukemia comes at number one of the cancers found in children worldwide including India. According to the National Cancer Institute, leukemia is the 5th largest cause of cancer deaths in the US.
The most dangerous form of leukemia is acute myeloid leukemia (AML). It is considered dangerous because the disease spreads very fast and the person is less likely to survive. Cancer cells divide very rapidly in AML patients. In the current treatment, these cells are divided at a faster speed than the cancer cells are killed.
Leukemia and Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is used in many functions in our body. It helps in metabolism of the body, makes red blood cells and also helps in increasing the cells. But in a recent research, scientists found that this property of vitamin B6 becomes dangerous for the patient in cancer. In fact, the number of red blood cells increases due to vitamin B6 when there is blood cancer, and by using this vitamin, these cells divide rapidly and start spreading to other parts of the body.
This research has been done by Lingbo Zhang of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), New York. Through a video below they are explaining the link between Vitamin B6 and blood cancer cells.
Many genes are responsible for blood cancer
For this research, Zhang studied the white blood cells of acute leukemia patients and found that more than 230 genes were found to be active in leukemia cells. The researchers then studied and blocked all of these genes separately with the CRISPR gene-editing technique, to prevent their activity. This research has been published in a journal called Cancer Cell.
How Vitamin B6 Works?
When our body is healthy, then we do not need vitamin B6 all the time. Whenever the body needs to divide the cell in the healthy body, our genes release a certain metabolic enzyme, called pyridoxal kinase (PDXK). But when a patient succumbs to leukemia, his genes become uncontrolled and release more of this enzyme. With the help of this enzyme, cancer cells combine with vitamin B6 and grow rapidly.
Enzymes are necessary for the development of leukemia cells. Vitamin B6 is like a drug for leukemia cells.
New direction for treatment
After this research, treatment of leukemia has found a new direction. After understanding this relationship between enzymes and vitamins, scientists can design better treatments for treating leukemia. Scientists said that giving foods with at least vitamin B6 to a leukemia patient can reduce the rate of spread of cancer.