Hydrolysed whey protein shows potential to curb chemo side effects

23 May 2023
Hydrolysed whey protein shows potential to curb chemo side effects

A new study has found that a specific diet rich in hydrolysed whey protein and medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), may be able to protect the gastrointestinal tract from chemotherapy's harmful effects, without reducing its ability to kill cancer cells.

Chemotherapy is the most common treatment for cancer and although it’s effective at killing cancer cells, it’s also known to damage healthy cells.

One area particularly sensitive to chemotherapy is the gastrointestinal tract, which can develop ulcers and other problems that cause diarrhoea, weight loss and malnutrition.

These side effects can make it difficult for patients to continue with their treatment and negatively impact overall wellbeing.

Preventing this reaction without reducing the effectiveness of chemotherapy has proven impossible, until now.

The specialised diet produced by SAHMRI’s industry partner, was tested in both tumor-free and tumor-bearing pre-clinical models and was found to significantly reduce gastrointestinal damage, stop diarrhoea and maintain lean muscle mass.

Additionally, the diet improved gut microbiome diversity and resilience without impairing the effectiveness of the chemotherapy treatment.

Lead researcher, Dr Hannah Wardill says the results are greatly encouraging.

“We’ve seen the diet provide profound benefits to the management of multiple symptoms associated with chemotherapy,” Dr Wardill said.

“This is important because typically different side effects are managed in isolation, meaning fragmented care and lots of different drugs for the patient.”

Researchers will continue to work to identify if it’s the protein, the MCTs or the combination that’s responsible for the positive effects.

“We’re also studying whether this diet can enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy on tumours cells, as our preliminary data suggests this may be the case.”

Read the study.

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