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Forsyth Researchers Use Resolvins for the Treatment of Lung Cancer 


Media contact: Jill Sirko,

Cambridge, Mass. -What if there was a way to stop an aggressive cancerous tumor from growing, reduce its size, keep it from spreading through the body, and mitigate the toxicity of chemotherapeutic drugs used to treat cancer? It would be a game changer in cancer treatment. A group of researchers at The Forsyth Institute have discovered that Resolvin E1, a lipid derivative of Omega-3 fatty acids, may be the way to do just that. In a paper to be published in the American Journal of Pathology, Dr. Alpdogan Kantarci and his team (Dr. Shevali Kansal, Dr. Hatice Hasturk, Ms. Dani Stephens, and Dr. Thomas Van Dyke) describe how a synthetic form of Resolvin can stop cancer in its tracks.  

One of the most remarkable aspects of this study is that they tested the efficacy of Resolvin E1 on an aggressive form of lung cancer that is among the hardest to treat. It is known for metastasizing rapidly and usually causes death quickly. Dr. Kantarci and his team used mice to test the hypothesis that if the inflammation feeding the cancer cells could be reduced with Resolvin, the cancer itself would be easier to treat. 

“Unless you live in a culture that consumes a diet high in fatty fish,” Dr. Kantarci said, “your body likely doesn’t have stable concentrations.” In addition, for most people, even those who often eat fatty fish or take Omega-3 or Omega-6 supplements, the resultant Resolvin metabolizes instantly, so there isn’t enough time for the body to absorb the benefits before it breaks down. Resolvin E1 is a synthetic and stable metabolite of omega-3 fatty acids that is sustained in the body for biological efficacy. 

The Forsyth team tested the impact of Resolvin E1 when injected into two types of mice: wild mice and mice bred to overexpress the receptor for Resolvin E1. “You can think of this overexpression of the receptor as giving Resolvin a bigger door to get through,” Dr. Kantarci said. “The bigger the door, the more benefit.”  

When the scientists injected Resolvin E1 into mice infected with these aggressive cancer cells, they made 2 remarkable discoveries:  

  1. Within two weeks, Resolvin E1 had reduced the tumor size in all treated mice compared to the control sample.  
  2. In the mice bred to overexpress the receptor, Resolvin E1was so effective it also killed the tumor cells so that they couldn’t proliferate. As a result, the bulk of the tumor was mostly made up of necrotic tissue (dead cells). 

The implications of these findings are significant for the future of cancer research. Shrinking the tumor makes it easier to remove. This result is especially important for cancers that quickly spread and/or are on organs that make the tumor inoperable, like this study’s lung cancer. Resolvin treatment also reduces the vascularization of the tumor and the microinflammatory environment around the tumor, both of which are critical for the protection of the tumor from the body’s normal defenses.  

Inflammation plays a huge role in tumor growth, creating the perfect environment for cancer cells to proliferate. Resolvin E1 helped reduce the cancerous tumor’s size by effectively addressing the inflammation.  

The team also tested how the mice responded to being treated with a cancer drug. Results strongly suggest the anti-inflammatory nature of Resolvin enhanced the drug’s efficacy, allowing for using lower doses. This reduces toxicity minimizing side effects typically associated with chemotherapeutic drugs. The mice treated with Resolvin while on the cancer drug gained weight instead of losing it. 

The group has worked for over 20 years testing Resolvins’ application in chronic inflammatory diseases and inflammation, including periodontal disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. Testing this treatment is still in the early stages; however, these results are very promising. There are currently no known side effects associated with Resolvin E1. 

About The Forsyth Institute

The Forsyth Institute, founded in 1910, is the world’s leading independent research institution focused on oral health and its connection to overall wellness. Forsyth was founded as a pediatric dental hospital serving disadvantaged children in the Boston area. Today, the Institute is grounded in a 3-pillared strategic plan focused on biological research, clinical service and public health outreach, and technological innovation. Forsyth conducts its original mission through a mobile public health dental program called ForsythKids.


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