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Photo of Dr. Wee Yong. // Photo courtesy of Quentin Collier, Department of Clinical Neurosciences.

Vitamin B3 found to fight deadly brain tumour, but consumption is not advised

By Sophia Lopez, April 19 2020

A recent research study done by the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) at the University of Calgary has proven that the use of niacin, also known as Vitamin B3, can help fight against the deadly brain tumour — glioblastoma.

Glioblastoma is an incurable form of brain cancer, one that rapidly decreases the lifespan of those who have it. Even if chemotherapy and other treatments are used, most of those with the disease will die a bit over a year after they are diagnosed.

Dr. Wee Yong, PhD, is the principal investigator on the research study. He is also a professor at the CSM, in the departments of Clinical Neurosciences and Oncology, as well as a member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute and Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute.

Since 2013, Dr. Yong and members of the CSM have been working to find a cure for the most aggressive brain tumour.

Many compounds were examined throughout the research study, and they discovered that Vitamin B3 has properties that activate immune cells, which helps to stop the growth of the brain tumour. 

This discovery has shown that the lifespan of mice with the brain tumour increased with just the sole use of Vitamin B3. When combined with chemotherapy, it showed even greater results, with life spans increasing more than double the number it was before.

Although this vitamin has been effective on mice, Dr. Yong strongly advises the public not go and try using niacin themselves just yet. The clinical trial still needs to take place, which will be funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). He wants to make sure that people aren’t just taking Vitamin B3 off the shelf, using amounts that may be dangerous and using it as often as they please.

“We want to ensure that it’s going to be useful and safe,” said Yong, “we don’t know how much we need for a patient with a brain tumour.”

The global pandemic occurring right now known as COVID-19 has not stopped Dr. Yong and his hard working team from developing more advancements from this discovery. Data is continuing to be analyzed online in order to achieve a greater understanding of the vitamin and in turn, glioblastoma.

After seven years of determination, doctors such as Dr. Yong and others of the CSM have helped make an incredible advancement to the goal of discovering a cure for this deadly disease. 

Hopefully, after the clinical trial, as well as the results of other experiments, more progression can be made regarding the brain tumour. 

Most importantly, these research study findings give us hope that one day we won’t have to suffer as many losses and that we can finally call this disease one that is curable, rather than one that is not.

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