Written by: Amy Boileau, Ph.D., R.D.

In a paper published in the journal PNAS, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reported that glioblastoma tumors over-produce NAMPT, an enzyme which is involved in the creation of NAD. The researchers used animal and cell models to demonstrate that if the activity of this enzyme is blocked, the tumors can be easier to kill.

It’s important to understand that:

  • Cancer cells are known to hijack otherwise ‘healthy’ functions within the cell to support their uncontrolled growth. Vitamins, glucose, protein and amino acids can all fuel tumor growth.
  • Without NAD, cells cannot survive. In the press release announcing this study, the primary author acknowledges the complexity of NAD and its importance in many vital processes that keep normal cells healthy. That’s why we say that NAD is essential for life.

However, it is common for cancer cells to over-express genes that help them grow faster. This study suggests that if NAMPT expression can be blocked in cancerous cells, but not in healthy ones, then it is possible it could result in a new treatment option for glioblastoma.

  • The study did not investigate NR or other NAD precursors. The researchers studied a very specific form of aggressive brain cancer called glioblastoma.  The paper doesn’t conclude any link between NR and other forms of vitamin B3 and cancers of any kind. People who have active cancer or who are in remission should always discuss all supplement use with their health care provider. NR is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. To date, NR has been studied in healthy human subjects.