Metabolic profiles essential for personalizing cancer therapy

February 7, 2012

One way to tackle a tumor is to take aim at the metabolic reactions that fuel their growth. But a report in the February Cell Metabolism shows that one metabolism-targeted cancer therapy will not fit all. That means that metabolic profiling will be essential for defining each cancer and choosing the best treatment accordingly, the researchers say.

The evidence comes from studies in mice showing that tumors' metabolic profiles vary based on the genes underlying a particular cancer and on the tissue of origin.

"Cancer research is dominated now by genomics and the hope that genetic fingerprints will allow us to guide therapy," said J. Michael Bishop of the University of California, San Francisco. "The issue is whether that is sufficient. We argue that it isn't because are complex and hard to predict. You may need to have the metabolome as well as the genome."

Just as a cancer genome refers to the complete set of genes, the metabolome refers to the complete set of metabolites in a given tumor.

The altered metabolism of tumors has been considered a target for anticancer therapy. For instance, tumors and cancer cell lines consume more glucose than normal cells do, a phenomenon known as the Warburg effect. There has often been the impression that such changes in metabolism are characteristic of cancers in general, but cancer is a genetically heterogeneous disease. The team led by Bishop and Mariia Yuneva wondered how metabolism might vary with the underlying of cancer.

They found in mice that liver cancers driven by different cancer-causing genes (Myc versus Met) show differences in the metabolism of two major nutrients: glucose and glutamine. What's more, the metabolism of Myc-induced is different from Myc-induced .

"Our work shows that different tumors can have very different metabolisms," Yuneva said. "You can't generalize."

Bishop and Yuneva say their findings also highlight glutamine metabolism as a potential new target for therapy in some tumors, noting that the focus has been primarily on glucose metabolism. Interestingly, the data shows that a version of a glutaminase enzyme normally found in kidney cells turns up in cancerous liver cells. That means there might be a way to attack the metabolism of the cancer without damaging normal liver tissue.

"We shouldn't lose sight of the rather immediate therapeutic potential," Bishop said.

The researchers will continue to inventory metabolic variation in mouse models. Ultimately, they say it will be important to catalogue the metabolic variation in the much more complex, human setting.

Explore further: Metabolic shift may offer early cancer clue

Related Stories

Metabolic shift may offer early cancer clue

July 5, 2011
Cancer cells are well known for their altered metabolisms, which may help them generate the energy they need for rapid growth. Using an emerging imaging technology, researchers reporting in the July Cell Metabolism, a Cell ...

Cancer cells feed on sugar-free diet

January 10, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Cancer cells have been long known to have a “sweet tooth,” using vast amounts of glucose for energy and for building blocks for cell replication.  

Feed a cold -- starve a tumor

October 21, 2011
The condition tuberous sclerosis, due to mutation in one of two tumor suppressor genes, TSC1 or TSC2, causes the growth of non-malignant tumors throughout the body and skin. These tumors can be unsightly and cause serious ...

Researchers unlock key to personalized cancer medicine using tumor metabolism

April 15, 2011
Identifying gene mutations in cancer patients to predict clinical outcome has been the cornerstone of cancer research for nearly three decades, but now researchers at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson have invented a ...

Recommended for you

Targeted antibiotic use may help cure chronic myeloid leukaemia

September 19, 2017
The antibiotic tigecycline, when used in combination with current treatment, may hold the key to eradicating chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) cells, according to new research.

Brain powered: Increased physical activity among breast cancer survivors boosts cognition

September 19, 2017
It is estimated that up to 75 percent of breast cancer survivors experience problems with cognitive difficulties following treatments, perhaps lasting years. Currently, few science-based options are available to help. In ...

Researchers compose guidelines for handling CAR T cell side effects

September 19, 2017
Immune-cell based therapies opening a new frontier for cancer treatment carry unique, potentially lethal side effects that provide a new challenge for oncologists, one addressed by a team led by clinicians at The University ...

Bone marrow protein a 'magnet' for passing prostate cancer cells

September 19, 2017
Scientists at the University of York have shown that a protein in the bone marrow acts like a 'magnetic docking station' for prostate cancer cells, helping them grow and spread outside of the prostate.

Brain cancer breakthrough could provide better treatment

September 19, 2017
A new discovery about the most common type of childhood brain cancer could transform treatment for young patients by enabling doctors to give the most effective therapies.

A new paradigm for treating transcription factor-driven cancers

September 18, 2017
In the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from Nationwide Children's Hospital describe a new paradigm for treating transcription factor-driven cancers. The study focuses on Ewing ...

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.