Catherine Field, Professor of Nutrition, CRC in Human Nutrition and Metabolism

Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science

The use of the bioactive lipid DHA to be part of breast cancer treatment, a journey from bench to bedside

Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed and the second leading cause of cancer related death in Canadian women. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid that has shown efficacy in reducing breast cancer cell growth, how it improves the efficacy of standard chemotherapy and the mechanisms involved have not been established. The overall objective of our research program is to determine the efficacy of DHA in the treatment of breast cancer. We have done this in vitro, in vivo and most recently in a randomized clinical trial DHA-Win (Women with Breast Cancer in the Neoadjuvant Setting). This clinical trial has also enabled us to also look at the effect of DHA on immune function during chemotherapy. In summary, our data provided strong pre-clinical evidence of efficacy of DHA in combination with chemotherapeutics in reducing BC cell growth. From our in vitro and in vivo work. The mechanisms of action through which DHA works include increased apoptosis, necroptosis and cell cycle arrest and decreased cellular proliferation and these will be discussed. Collectively the evidence obtained from these studies details the role of DHA in a neoadjuvant setting that we hypothesize will be confirmed in the clinical trial. It is our hope that we will have the outcome of the trial (DHA Win) on the primary mechanism Ki67 in the women’s biopsy for this presentation. We will have most of the immune data to discuss.

Speaker/Chair Bio:

Catherine Field is a Registered Dietitian who obtained her PhD in Nutrition and Metabolism the University of Alberta followed by a post-doctoral fellowship at McGill University. She began her academic career at the U of Alberta in 1991. Her research program centers on the effect of nutrition on the development of the immune system and the role of specific fatty acids in the treatment of breast cancer. She is a co-PI for the large maternal infant cohort, APrON (Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition). She is a CRC Tier 1 Chair in Human Nutrition and Metabolism and is a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and the Canadian Nutrition Society. She has published more than 300 peer reviewed publications, She has received the McCalla and Killam Professorships from the University of Alberta, and the Earl Willard McHenry Award for Leadership in Nutrition from the Canadian Nutrition Society and is a CNS fellow. Dr. Field currently serves on the International Life Sciences Institute Canadian and American Advisory Board, is an Associate Editor for the American Society for Nutrition review journal Advances in Nutrition and is a past president of the American Society for Nutrition.