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

November 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: How a poorly explored immune cell may impact cancer immunity and immunotherapy

Related Stories

How a poorly explored immune cell may impact cancer immunity and immunotherapy

November 17, 2017
The immune cells that are trained to fight off the body's invaders can become defective. It's what allows cancer to develop. So most research has targeted these co-called effector T-cells.

Study finds a new way to shut down cancer cells' ability to consume glucose

November 7, 2017
Cancer cells consume exorbitant amounts of glucose, a key source of energy, and shutting down this glucose consumption has long been considered a logical therapeutic strategy. However, good pharmacological targets to stop ...

Sugar, carbs and cancer links

November 2, 2017
In August of 2016, the New England Journal of Medicine published a striking report on cancer and body fat: Thirteen separate cancers can now be linked to being overweight or obese, among them a number of the most common and ...

Altitude training for cancer-fighting cells

September 18, 2017
Mountain climbers and endurance athletes are not the only ones to benefit from altitude training - that is, learning to perform well under low-oxygen conditions. It turns out that cancer-fighting cells of the immune system ...

Metabolism can be used to subtype hepatoblastoma tumors

September 18, 2017
Looking at cell metabolism instead of histology, EPFL scientists have identified new biomarkers that could help more accurately classify the two main subtypes of hepatoblastoma, a children liver cancer.

Study shows how nerves drive prostate cancer

October 19, 2017
In a study in today's issue of Science, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, part of Montefiore Medicine, report that certain nerves sustain prostate cancer growth by triggering a switch that causes tumor vessels ...

Recommended for you

Researchers discover a new target for 'triple-negative' breast cancer

November 20, 2017
So-called "triple-negative" breast cancer is a particularly aggressive and difficult-to-treat form. It accounts for only about 10 percent of breast cancer cases, but is responsible for about 25 percent of breast cancer fatalities.

Clinical trial suggests new cell therapy for relapsed leukemia patients

November 20, 2017
A significant proportion of children and young adults with treatment-resistant B-cell leukemia who participated in a small study achieved remission with the help of a new form of gene therapy, according to researchers at ...

Study reveals new mechanism used by cancer cells to disarm attacking immune cells

November 20, 2017
A new study by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC - James) identifies a substance released by pancreatic cancer cells that protects ...

Cell-weighing method could help doctors choose cancer drugs

November 20, 2017
Doctors have many drugs available to treat multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer. However, there is no way to predict, by genetic markers or other means, how a patient will respond to a particular drug. This can lead to ...

Lung cancer triggers pulmonary hypertension

November 17, 2017
Shortness of breath and respiratory distress often increase the suffering of advanced-stage lung cancer patients. These symptoms can be triggered by pulmonary hypertension, as scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Heart ...

Researchers discover an Achilles heel in a lethal leukemia

November 16, 2017
Researchers have discovered how a linkage between two proteins in acute myeloid leukemia enables cancer cells to resist chemotherapy and showed that disrupting the linkage could render the cells vulnerable to treatment. St. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.