According to the researcher, a dietary supplement can slow the development of certain types of cancer and improve the effects of treatment.
Mice with pancreatic cancer, lung or skin were given mannose, and sugar could also be found in cranberries and other fruits.
This significantly slowed the growth of their tumors, without obvious side effects, the researchers found.
However, patients are told not to start adding mannose due to the risk of side effects.
Scientists hope to test the supplement in humans soon.
It is believed that mannose, which can be bought at health food stores and is sometimes used to treat urinary tract infections, hinders the ability of tumors to use glucose for growth.
- Hospitals that cannot treat patients in a timely manner
- Early ascending vessels have a lower risk of breast cancer.
Scientists also looked at how mannose can affect cancer treatment by providing it to mice that were treated with the two most widely used chemotherapeutic drugs, cisplatin and doxorubicin.
They found that it enhances the effects of chemotherapy, slows the growth of tumors and reduces their size. It also increased the lifespan of some mice.
In further testing, cells from other cancers, including leukemia, osteosarcoma (bone cancer), ovarian and intestinal cancer, were exposed to mannose in the laboratory.
Some cells responded well, while others did not.
How well the cells reacted seemed to depend on the levels they had on the enzyme that destroys the mannose.
Lead author Professor Kevin Ryan from the Cancer Research Institute. Bewson said his team found a dosage of mannose that “could block enough glucose to slow down tumor growth in mice, but not so much that normal tissue was affected.”
The bodies require glucose for energy, but cancers also use it to stimulate their growth.
“These are early studies, but there is hope that finding this perfect balance means that in the future mannose can be given to cancer patients to increase chemotherapy without harming their overall health,” he said.
One of the advantages of mannose is that it is cheaper than drugs produced by pharmaceutical companies.
And Professor Ryan said that he hopes that tests in people can begin soon.
However, he and other experts warn that the results do not mean that people with cancer should begin to supplement with mannose.
Martin Ledwick, a feed nurse at Cancer Research UK, said: “Although these results are very promising for future cancer treatment, these are very early studies and have not yet been tested in humans.
“Patients should not prescribe mannose themselves, as there is a real danger of negative side effects that have not yet been tested.
"It is important to consult a doctor before drastically changing your diet or taking new supplements."
Professor Ryan said his team will continue to investigate why mannose worked in some cancer cells and not in others, so they could decide which patients could benefit the most.
A study published in the journal Nature.