This is a summary.
When A-listers popularized the Keto diet as an effective method for dropping unwanted pounds, they did not realize that this diet could become part of a cancer-fighting treatment strategy. The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet with adequate amounts of protein. Recent research suggest ketogenesis creates an unfavorable metabolic environment for cancer cells. Knowledge Pharmaceuticals is developing a drug that can mimicking the keto effect and serve as an “adjuvant” to chemotherapy treatment. This could dramatically improve survival and quality of life for patients with glioblastoma, which has been deemed one of the hardest to treat and deadliest of all cancers.
Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer. There is no cure. Multiple treatments are used (surgery, radiation therapy, drugs) to extend patient lifespan and quality of life. Without treatment, lifespan is typically 3 months. With treatment, the life span is extended to over a year, but 95% of patients do not survive this cancer beyond 5 years.
Knowledge Pharmaceuticals is developing a drug that could radically improve how we treat glioblastoma. Our drug is capable of inducing the metabolic effects of a keto diet, without the patient having to go on the diet. Researchers believe the keto diet creates a metabolic environment that is unfavorable to cancer cells. Hence a pill that can mimic this diet serves as a potent adjuvant to chemotherapy, especially for those cancers where treatment alternatives and survival outcomes are low, like glioblastoma.
The ketogenic diet has been used for a century to treat seizures. It has recently been shown to improve the response of glioblastomas to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Our milestone is to test whether the active ingredient we have discovered in the diet (which we have shown has an anti seizure effect) or related compounds improves the response of glioblastomas to chemotherapy.
Funds will be used to 1) synthesize compounds with a longer lifespan than the active ingredient in the ketogenic diet, and 2) test the best of these compounds in an animal model of glioblastoma to see if it reduces tumor growth.
The chair of pharmaceutical chemistry at the Keck Pharmacy School in Claremont, CA will synthesize the drugs for us. We intend to acquire a mouse model through Fox Chase to test the best drug for its tumor suppressing effect in combination with current chemotherapy.
Patients with glioblastoma would need to be on the ketogenic diet if they want to benefit from it in their own treatment. However, the ketogenic diet is difficult to follow and those who swear by it, such as celebrities, often have private chefs and other resources to sustain a daily menu of high protein and fat, and low carb dishes. For the average person, let alone those battling cancer, following the keto diet is difficult (if not impossible) and therefore few cancer patients can actually benefit from it.
If the drug being developed by Knowledge Pharmaceuticals fails due to lack of funding, patients would have very little ability to incorporate ketogenesis as part of their cancer treatments. This would be yet another tragic defeat in our war on cancer.