Is standard mouse chow used world-wide in scientific experiments adequate nutrition?

Consider this interesting work done on aggressive breast cancer in mice:

“Dr. Brunhilde H. Felding has focused her research largely on the mechanisms by which breast cancer spreads to the other parts of the body. Recently, her team made a discovery that may change the landscape of breast cancer treatment.

When doctors look to treat breast cancer, an important factor is the likelihood that the cancer will progress and shift into an aggressive, life-threatening mode. But it is difficult to determine if, when, and how fast progression will occur for each patient.

Previously conducted research suggests that mutations affecting mitochondria, which are key to energy production in cells, strongly influence whether a tumor becomes aggressive. But the mechanism was not fully understood.

Dr. Brunhilde H. Felding

In order to better understand this process, Dr. Felding’s group teamed up with TSRI colleagues Akemi and Takao Yagi. Using unique compounds from the Yagi group, the Felding team zeroed in on two metabolic cofactors. They found that an increased amount of one of these cofactors – nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) – caused tumor cells to be less aggressive.

The next logical step was to find a simple way to enhance the critical NAD+ level therapeutically. So the team explored what would happen if mice with breast cancer were fed water spiked with nicotinamide, a B-complex vitamin that is a precursor for NAD+ production. The scientists found that in mice who had consumed the nicotinamide, cancer development was dramatically slowed down, and the mice lived longer.

Now the group is working toward human trials to learn whether nicotinamide or other NAD+ precursors will have similarly impressive results in humans. Since NAD+ precursors are already used for other purposes, such as controlling cholesterol levels and treating skin diseases, achieving approval for human clinical trials should be simpler than is normally the case.

“It is not a totally new treatment that would need to be tested for toxicity and side effects like a new drug,” said Felding. “And we already know the precursors can be easily ingested.”

If manipulating the NAD+ ratio in humans has the same effect as in mice, the results could be profound. Such treatment could benefit people at risk of developing aggressive breast cancer, offer complementary treatment to chemo and radiation therapy to avoid disease recurrence, and maybe even provide a preventive treatment for women with a family history of breast cancer.”

Conclusion: I doubt mouse chow provides adequate nutrition. Based on a different end point, some one thought that mouse chow was supplying the niacin  (about 120 ppm) that mice need, but this more sensitive end point suggests that mouse chow needs additional niacin. If the V3 nutrients that work with NAD+ were in the diet – most certainly they are not in these synthetic chows – the need for additional niacin might be reduced considerably. How many other essential and V3 nutrients are likewise deficient in these artificial but carefully controlled diets?

Formulators of diets for scientific research have sacrificed utility and real-world significance for the consistency and reproducibility of an artificial, chemically defined diet with empty calories such as the added sucrose and processed, highly purified fats (usually just soybean oil).


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