Preventing tumor cells from refueling: A new anti-cancer approach?

Nov 20, 2008

New data, generated in mice, by Pierre Sonveaux and colleagues, at Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium, have identified a potential new target for anticancer therapeutics.

Not all cells in a tumor are equal, for example, some are in regions rich in oxygen, whereas others are in regions deprived of oxygen (hypoxic regions). It had been thought that the tumor cells in these two regions used the same type of fuel to generate energy, specifically glucose.

However, Sonveaux and colleagues have now shown that although hypoxic tumor cells use glucose to generate energy, well-oxygenated tumor cells use a different fuel, lactate. Further, the lactate used by the well-oxygenated tumor cells as a fuel was released from the hypoxic tumor cells as a waste product of the chemical reactions that burned glucose to generate energy, leading the authors to suggest that the different tumor cells exist in symbiosis.

More detailed analysis revealed that well-oxygenated cells took up lactate via the protein MCT1 and that inhibiting MCT1 made the well-oxygenated cells switch to using glucose as a fuel to generate energy. This disrupted the symbiotic relationship between the hypoxic and well-oxygenated tumor cells and in two mouse models of cancer led to decreased tumor growth, as the hypoxic tumor cells became deprived of glucose, and rendered the remaining cells sensitive to irradiation. As MCT1 expression was detected exclusively in nonhypoxic regions of human cancer biopsy samples, the authors suggest that MCT1 is a potential new target for anticancer therapeutics. In an accompanying commentary, Greg Semenza, at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, discusses this concept further as well as other therapeutic implications.

Source: Journal of Clinical Investigation

Explore further: Chronic inflammation linked to 'high-grade' prostate cancer

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers find new role for cancer protein p53

Mar 02, 2011

The gene for the protein p53 is the most frequently mutated in human cancer. It encodes a tumor suppressor, and traditionally researchers have assumed that it acts primarily as a regulator of how genes are ...

Fat cells play key role in development of type 2 diabetes

Jul 06, 2010

Cellular changes in fat tissue -- not the immune system -- lead to the "hyperinflammation" characteristic of obesity-related glucose intolerance and type 2 diabetes, according to new research from the University of Cincinnati ...

Recommended for you

Unraveling the 'black ribbon' around lung cancer

Apr 17, 2014

It's not uncommon these days to find a colored ribbon representing a disease. A pink ribbon is well known to signify breast cancer. But what color ribbon does one think of with lung cancer?

User comments : 0

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.