A promising study may have uncovered a simple way to improve
cancer treatment. As a cancerous tumour grows, large portions become deprived of oxygen, making the conditions inside those cells very
acidic. This acidity deactivates mTORC1, a molecular switch that’s responsible for giving cells the goahead to divide, which in turn puts
those parts of the tumour into a quiescent state where processes are virtually shut down, making them more resistant to immunotherapy. But a study published in the journal
Cell found that when mice were given baking soda in their drinking water, it reduced the acidity in the quiescent
regions of tumours and activated mTORC1. Study lead author Chi Van Dang, scientific director of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, says that “by reawakening these cells, you could make the tumour far more sensitive to therapy”.