Cancer – to DIY or not to DIY – Food Pharmacy

Paul Clayton

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Cancer – to DIY or not to DIY

Cancer treatment used to be barbarous. The first weapons in the war against cancer, the nitrogen mustards, were originally developed as weapons of war. Today, cancer treatment is merely terrifying. 

Immunochemotherapy is inherently less destructive than the old chemotoxins, and newer approaches ranging from ancillary CR-3 agonists to the checkpoint inhibitors have major steps forward; but if you read the small print on a Keytruda pack insert, you will still see around 90 adverse effects listed there. 

Successful cancer cells escape immune surveillance by expressing cloaking proteins on their surface which hide them from the T cells that would otherwise identify and kill them. One of the cloaking proteins is called programmed death ligand (PD-L1), and drugs like Keytruda work by targeting PD-L1 so that the immune system can see and attack the cancer cells.

 There is a lot of good and well-funded research going on to identify even more specific (and maybe safer) anti-cloaking targets, from MEX3B (1) to elF5B (2).  Others are combining radiotherapy with immunochemotherapy, as radiation damages cancer cells and makes them more antigenic (3). Combining antimitotics with glycolysis (PFKFB3) inhibitors looks promising (4), and adding post-glycolysis lactate dehydrogenase inhibitors may be even better (5).

But do we really need more magic bullets? Are we pointing our guns in the right direction? Could we, instead, do more on the home front?

Cancer cells are genomically unstable (6). When a diverse mass of cancer cells is attacked, those individual cells with mutations that make them less vulnerable survive preferentially and become parents of the next generation of treatment-resistant cancer cells. This is why most cancers eventually escape from chemotherapy and immunochemotherapy (ie 7). This is, simply, cellular Darwinism.

Perhaps we should be asking instead why cancer has become so very popular, identify the causative factors, and stem the rising tide. In the last 40 years, for example, rates of cancer in adolescents and young adults have increased by up to 30% (8). When you look at their diet, it is not hard to see why.

The ultra-processed diet kills us in various ways (ie 9, 10). By causing chronic inflammation, dysbiosis and hyperinsulinemia, and at the same time depleting us of a range of cancer-protective phytonutrients (11), it is most certainly causing cancer (12).

We cannot afford not to address this. As Karol Sikora pointed out in his clarion 2007 paper (13), cancer care costs everywhere are raging out of control. An ageing, overweight and fundamentally unhealthy population exposed to emerging medical technology in an information-rich, consumer-orientated world, drives up demand for ever (14). 

An ounce of prevention is usually better than a pound of cure.

With cancer costs spiralling we’ll run out of pounds, dollars, euros and yuan long before the ‘cure for cancer’ Joe Biden dementedly promised during the run-up to the last election (15). Big Pharma and their political whores are making hay, but we serfs face a cancer-riddled future if we continue on this well-paved road to perdition.

Prevention, then. 

First step is to restore pre-transitional nutrition (16, 17), a simple strategy which should cut cancer by up to 90% (18, 19) – especially if you stop smoking, and take a little exercise.

That still leaves roughly 10%. These individuals carry genes such as BRCA1 and 2, FAP and MAP and another 50 or more, and have an inherently higher risk of cancer. What hope is there for them?

Perhaps we could turn to mother’s milk. If there is a sweet spot where many different cancerous cells converge and can be killed with kindness, this might just be it. And this is where the Prince of Denmark enters, stage left. 

HAMLET, or Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumour cells – it’s a labored acronym – is derived from breast milk. It couples alpha-lactalbumin, a protein that regulates the production of lactose in milk, with oleic acid, a fatty acid produced in humans and olives. The resulting complex might just be the holy grail of oncology; it kills a variety of cancer cells (20), with minimal collateral damage.

Professor Catharina Svanborg, at Lund University, did the early taxonomic work. (I am abusing taxonomy here, in a nod to an earlier Lund graduate.) She then founded Hamlet Pharma Ltd to develop the technology. I wish her the very best of luck in this endeavor, which looks as if it will be a great gift to humanity and worth a Nobel or two. 

Catharina was both lucky and brilliant. It started with a chance observation, but chance favours the prepared mind and I believe she immediately understood the import of her first unexpected findings. I won’t present her milestones in the sequence in which they occurred, but in a way that allows an economic story line.

Briefly, she found that when alpha-lactalbumin (α-LA) is mixed with oleic acid (OA) it unfolds, binds to the OA via van der Waals forces and hydrogen bonds, and forms complexes. The α-LA/OA complexes enter the cell membranes of cells and force the membranes of cancer cells to alter their shape and structure in such a way as to efficiently trigger apoptosis (21-24).

When these complexes are infused into mice (24) or cancer patients (25, 26), cancer cells break down promptly and without adverse effects. And while α-LA (27) and OA (28) have some anti-cancer effects on their own, the combination is super-additive.

When α-LA and OA are complexed, regions in α-LA bind non-specifically to components in cell membranes. The α-LA/OA complex then creates physical stress and local distortion of the cell membrane that normal cells can accept; but cancer cells, which possess specific alterations in their membranes required for faster growth and/or metastatic spread (29-31), cannot.

The α-LA/OA complex causes cation fluxes across the cancer cell membrane (21) possibly due to physical membrane changes combined with the well-known ability of α-LA to bind Ca++, Mg++, Mn++, Na+ and K+. These ion fluxes initiate multi-step sequences which ultimately lead, possibly via the mitochondrial Heat Shock Protein ‘Mortalin’ (32, 35), to apoptosis (33-35).

As the cancer cells die they create an innate immune response in surrounding healthy tissues. This constitutes an additional anti-cancer effect.

α-LA is a very interesting protein indeed. It is a shape-shifter, and can adopt at least 5 different configurations, each with a different functionality (36). Some of these changes are driven by the different cations listed above (22, 36). This may mean that its shape in the cancer cell membrane is not constant but dynamic, and this might also contribute to its ability to cause membrane deformation and cancer cell death.

HAMLET and a semi-synthetic, smaller protein/fatty acid complex (20) are currently undergoing clinical trials. Early reports in bladder cancer and skin papillomas are positive (25), but if you are too impatient to wait out the protracted regulatory procedure you could hack the model and DIY. 

When the headlines first appeared, a black market in human breast milk developed almost overnight. Cancer patients using the social media tag #freezerstash searched online for wetnurses (37), but α-lactalbumin on its own is not enough. Neither is oleic acid. To form an effective cancer killer, these two molecules must be complexed together.

There are two main methods of making α-LA-OA complexes. 

HAMLET was initially prepared by running human α-LA through an OA-conditioned anion exchange column. This would be difficult though not impossible to do in your kitchen. Then it got easier. A second method was published, showing that if you simply mixed α-LA and OA in solution, this worked just as well (38). 

And then BAMLET appeared on the scene. It became clear that cow’s milk was just as good as human milk. Bovine α-lactalbumin could be substituted for human α-lactalbumin and bound to oleic acid to form an anti-tumor complex that did everything HAMLET could do (39-41), and more cheaply. 

In an ideal world the next variant would have been based on sheep’s milk, and called OMLET. Omlet is Afrikaans for Hamlet, but it was not to be. Instead, we got BLAMLET. 

A Beijing team found that a different cow’s milk protein, lactoferrin, worked in the same way as α-lactalbumin, though it was only a tenth as effective (42). The same group then discovered that bovine β-lactoglobulin produced cancer-killing complexes with oleic acid and linoleic acid as well (43). This was highly effective at killing cancer cells – and it may kill the cancer industry too.

 β-lactoglobulin and oleic acid are common food ingredients. Whey protein is approximately 50% β-lactoglobulin by weight (44), olive oil contains 55-80% oleic acid. (I prefer oleic acid to linoleic acid because it will do less damage to your omega 6:3 index). In short, cooking up a cancer cure in your kitchen starts to look feasible.

Whey protein blended with olive oil will, if you follow the recipe (43, 45), produce an emulsion containing β-lactoglobulin / oleic acid complexes. (Whey protein is an excellent emulsifier). Do not blend for more than 40-50 seconds as foaming degrades the protein. Preparation time: approximately 1 hour. You will need: a benchtop centrifuge, an ultra-filtration kit and an iv drip. Total cost on Ebay: $500-700.

You cannot drink the whey / olive oil brew because most of the proteins you ingest will be digested and their functionality lost. Hence the iv drip, which has long beenused to deliver emulsions containing protein and fatty acids. You need to make sure that your ingredients are sterile, for obvious reasons, but the ultra-filtration will take care of that.

Allergy to cow’s milk is clearly a contra-indication; and the course, should you decide to try this, will necessarily be a week or less as serum sickness will otherwise develop.

If you are afraid of needles you may wish to explore the mysteries of the nutrient enema, AKA rectal alimentation. This ancient medical technique is described in a fascinating sub-set of the scientific literature (47-50) and has more recently been abused by the CIA (51), but may still be useful in certain situations.

In either case, proceed at your own risk.

While you’re pondering the options, let’s ask the obvious evolutionary question. Do these tumoricidal complexes have a purpose? They are probably being formed in the body in small amounts at all times, because oleic acid levels in blood remain fairly constant (51) and lactalbumin can be detected at low levels in men and non-pregnant women (52).

Levels of lactalbumin in the blood rise dramatically in the latter stages of pregnancy and during breast-feeding, and one would expect levels of α-LA-OA complexes to rise also. 

The latter stages of pregnancy are characterized by a form of adaptive and partial immunosuppression, which allows the fetal tissues to grow and develop. One could hypothesize that immune changes which might be cancer-permissive at this time (53) are countered by increased levels of lactalbumin / oleic acid complexes in the blood. 

But this is only a hypothesis, and hypotheses are cheap.

This is a guest post. Any opinions expressed are the writer’s own.

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