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Soy raises hope of bone cancer treatment

Researchers in the United States (U.S.) have taken advantage of the health benefits of soya to improve post-operative treatment of bone cancer. They unveiled the results of this new study in the journal, ‘Acta Biomaterialia’. According to graduate student, Naboneeta Sarkar and Professor Susmita Bose at the Washington State University, (WSU)’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, the slow release of soy-based chemical compounds from a 3-Dprinted bone-like scaffold resulted in a reduction in bone cancer cells while building up healthy cells and reducing harmful inflammation. According to Bose: “Using these natural medicines, one can make a difference to human health with very minimal or no side effects, although a critical issue remains composition control.”

As part of this study, the researchers used 3-D printing to make patientspecific, bone-like scaffolds that included three soy compounds and then slowly released the compounds into samples containing bone cancer as well as healthy bone cells. Soybeans contain isoflavones, plant-derived estrogens that have been shown to impede cancer cell growth for many types of cancer without being toxic to normal cells.

Isoflavones have also been shown to improve bone health and possibly prevent osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become weak and brittle. The body constantly absorbs and replaces bone tissue. With osteoporosis, new bone creation doesn’t keep up with old bone removal and many affected persons have no symptoms until they have a bone fracture. In this study, one of the soybean compounds caused a 90 per cent reduction in bone cancer cell viability in their samples after 11 days. Two other soy compounds, meanwhile, significantly improved the growth of healthy bone cells.

Furthermore, using the soy compounds in animal models also reduced inflammation,which could benefit bone health as well as overall recovery. Bose said: “These results advance our understanding in providing therapeutic approaches in using synthetic bone grafts as a drug delivery vehicle.”

The ‘Medical Xpress’ reported that the treatment involves surgery to remove the tumour as well as preand post-operative chemotherapy. Large areas of bone need to be removed and repaired, and patients often experience a significant amount of inflammation during bone reconstruction, which slows healing. High doses of chemotherapy before and after surgery can also have harmful side effects. The researchers are continuing the unique area of research, studying the specific pathways of the genetic expression of natural compounds and the benefits of integrating them in biomedical technology.

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