New research published in the journal Acta Biomaterialia highlights the post-operative benefits of soy in treatment for bone cancer. While previous studies have suggested that soy is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and cancer, as well as improved bone health, Washington State University scientists say that soy may also help patients during post-op chemotherapy.
Osteosarcoma, which affects mostly young people, is the second leading cause of cancer death in children. Standard treatment includes surgery to remove the tumor in addition to pre- and post-operative chemotherapy. The treatment is harsh and patients frequently have a lot inflammation from the surgery and bone reconstruction, in addition to the harmful side effects of chemotherapy. Unfortunately, osteosarcoma and metastatic bone cancer patients also often have a high rate of recurrence.
Led by WSU's School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering researchers Professor Susmita Bose and Naboneeta Sarkar, the study analyzed the effects of soy-based chemical compounds released slowly during chemotherapy. The goal of this treatment is to reduce inflammation. The team has taken a materials science angle in their research in order to develop biomedical devices that could be useful during cancer treatment.
"There is not much research in this area of natural medicinal compounds in biomedical devices," Bose said. "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."
Soybeans have been spotlighted because of the beneficial properties of the compounds in them called isoflavones. These plant-derived estrogens are toxic to certain types of cancer cells while simultaneously not harmful to healthy cells. They have also been associated with bone health.
In conducting their research, the scientists 3D printed patient-specific, bone-like scaffolds composed of three soy compounds. They then used sample bone cancer cells and healthy cells to test a slow-release of the compounds into the cells. They found that while all three soy compounds reduced inflammation, two in particular significantly improved the growth of healthy bone cells and one resulted in a 90% reduction in bone cancer cell viability after only 11 days.
"These results advance our understanding in providing therapeutic approaches in using synthetic bone grafts as a drug delivery vehicle," Bose said. The team plans to continue their research in order to better understand the specific pathways of the genetic expression of soy.