Selectively inhibiting PKM2 starves cancer cells

Crippling a protein that allows cancer cells to grow when oxygen is scarce causes tumors to regress, according to a study published online on January 23 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

An enzyme called PKM2 (M2 isoform of pyruvate ) is ramped up in cancer cells, allowing them to generate energy in the harsh, low-oxygen environment found within tumors.

Michael Goldberg and Phillip Sharp at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology now find that inhibiting PKM2 kills by starving them of energy but leaves normal cells unscathed. Crippling PKM2 caused established tumors in mice to melt away. If these results hold true in humans, this strategy could prove effective against a wide spectrum of cancers with minimal side effects.

More information: Goldberg, M.S., and P.A. Sharp. 2012. J. Exp. Med. doi:10.1084/jem.20111487

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Understanding cancer energetics

Jun 04, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- It's long been known that cancer cells eat a lot of sugar to stay alive. In fact, where normal, noncancerous cells generate energy from using some sugar and a lot of oxygen, cancerous cells use virtually ...

Study helps explain fundamental process of tumor growth

Mar 12, 2008

Nearly 80 years ago, scientist Otto Warburg observed that cancer cells perform energy metabolism in a way that is different from normal adult cells. Many decades later, this observation was exploited by clinicians to better ...

Cancers' sweet tooth may be weakness

Nov 18, 2009

The pedal-to-the-metal signals driving the growth of several types of cancer cells lead to a common switch governing the use of glucose, researchers at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University have discovered.

Recommended for you

Early hormone therapy may be safe for women's hearts

4 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Healthy women at low risk of cardiovascular disease may be able to take hormone replacement therapy soon after menopause for a short time without harming their hearts, according to a new study.

Low yield for repeat colonoscopy in some patients

4 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Repeat colonoscopies within 10 years are of little benefit to patients who had no polyps found on adequate examination; however, repeat colonoscopies do benefit patients when the baseline examination was compromised, ...

Cell's recycling center implicated in division decisions

7 hours ago

Most cells do not divide unless there is enough oxygen present to support their offspring, but certain cancer cells and other cell types circumvent this rule. Researchers at The Johns Hopkins University have now identified ...

User comments