It has long been recognized that the highly complex immune system plays a significant role in protecting the human body from various foreign particles including viruses, bacteria, and parasites. A component of the immune system known as “T cells” are thought to act as “policemen” that are constantly on the lookout for cancer cells considered to be foreign and when found, destroy them.
However, tumor cells have evolved means of escaping T cells’ surveillance by either masking themselves from being recognized as foreign or by actually lowering the number of T cells.
Since 2-DG falsely incorporates itself into the sugar proteins or glycoproteins of tumor cells, it is able to increase the cancer cell’s “foreignness” – thereby making it more recognizable by T cells. Additionally, it has been shown that when combined with radiation, 2-DG increases the number of T cells.
Thus, given the amount of research being done on boosting cellular immunity to act as a natural defense against cancer, exploring how 2-DG may increase this effectiveness seems to be another promising mechanism by which this remarkable sugar analog may be used to fight the devastating effects of cancer.