Cancer-metabolism link runs deep in humans

Jul 21, 2010

Eighty years ago, the medical establishment believed cancer was caused by a dysfunction of metabolism, but the idea went out of vogue. Now, scientists are again looking at metabolism and its role in cancer and other common diseases. Metabolism is a highly connected network of reactions that are arranged in parallel and interacting pathways. Such parallelism can mask how genes are linked with disease traits and make it difficult to treat conditions.

In a paper in the journal CHAOS, which is published by the American Institute of Physics, researchers at Harvard Medical School and Boston University analyzed ways to "break" the multiple parallel pathways of a metabolic network. The team applied a novel network algorithm to a published genome-scale model of human to design minimal "knockouts" for a wide variety of metabolic functions, such as phospholipid biosynthesis and the role of fumarase in suppressing human cancer.

The research suggests that the many pathways in the human metabolic network buffer each other to a striking degree, inducing "deep" epistasis -- the suppression of a mutation by one or more seemingly unrelated genes. Their results identify specific in vivo perturbation experiments that could confirm this deep parallelism in human . "The results of our analysis could also be used to statistically probe complex relationships between and disease," says co-author Marcin Imielinski.

Explore further: Seeking 'absolute zero', copper cube gets chillingly close (Update)

More information: The article "Deep epistasis in human metabolism" by Marcin Imielinski and Calin Belta was published in the journal CHAOS on June 30, 2010. See: chaos.aip.org/chaoeh/v20/i2/p026104_s1

Provided by American Institute of Physics

4 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

To starve a tumor

Apr 06, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Since the 1920s, scientists have known that cancer cells generate energy differently than normal cells, a phenomenon dubbed the 'Warburg effect' after its discoverer, German biochemist Otto ...

Anti-inflammatory signal protein discovered

Feb 17, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet have discovered a protein that is crucial in mediating the anti-inflammatory actions of nuclear lipid receptors. The findings, published ...

How to construct a 'firefly' worm

Jun 02, 2008

Research describing a new modified luminescent worm that allows, for the first time, to measure, in real time, the metabolism of an entire living organism has just been published in the journal BMC Physiology.

Road mapping could be key to curing TB

Feb 05, 2010

The complex chain of metabolic events in bacteria that lead to fatal diseases such as tuberculosis (TB) may be better understood using mathematical models, according to an article published in the February issue of Microbiology To ...

Recommended for you

Cooling with molecules

11 hours ago

An international team of scientists have become the first ever researchers to successfully reach temperatures below minus 272.15 degrees Celsius – only just above absolute zero – using magnetic molecules. ...

Backpack physics: Smaller hikers carry heavier loads

Oct 21, 2014

Hikers are generally advised that the weight of the packs they carry should correspond to their own size, with smaller individuals carrying lighter loads. Although petite backpackers might appreciate the ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

CaptBarbados
not rated yet Jul 23, 2010
Cancer is caused by infections: flu, colds, STDs, virus, bacteria, etc.
Our habits and environment weaken us but our inner inhabitants ultimately give us cancer.
frajo
not rated yet Jul 23, 2010
Cancer is caused by infections: flu, colds, STDs, virus, bacteria, etc.
How do you know?
Our habits and environment weaken us but our inner inhabitants ultimately give us cancer.
Our gut bacteria?