Scientists find molecule to starve lung cancer and improve ventilator recovery

July 6, 2012

A new research report published online in the FASEB Journal reveals a connection among sugar, cancer, and dependence on breathing machines--microRNA-320a. In the report, Stanford scientists show that the molecule microRNA-320a is responsible for helping control glycolysis. Glycolysis is the process of converting sugar into energy, which fuels the growth of some cancers, and contributes to the wasting of unused muscles such as the diaphragm when people are using ventilators. Identifying ways to use microRNA-320a to starve tumors and keep unused muscles strong would represent a significant therapeutic leap for numerous diseases and health conditions.

"We hope that this discovery will yield a new avenue of molecular treatment for cancers, particularly , which is the number one cause of cancer deaths worldwide," said Joseph B. Shrager, M.D., a researcher involved in the work who is a Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery, and Chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, and VA Palo Alto Healthcare System in California. "We also hope it can lead to a treatment to be given to patients who require the breathing machine, reducing the length of time they require the machine, and thereby reducing complications and deaths."

To make this discovery, Shrager and colleagues studied lung from patients and tissue from the diaphragm (the primary muscle used for breathing) from patients who had been on a for more than a few hours. They found that both types of tissue had increases in glycolysis, as well as reductions in a molecule that controls glycolysis—microRNA-320a. Test tube experiments then showed that microRNA-320a definitely controls how much energy these two very different tissues have available to them.

"Just as the discovery of angiogenesis opened new doors to find ways to stop cancers and to help the body heal itself," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the , "this discovery, on a smaller scale, does the same by identifying an important molecule that may help starve tumors and help the body recover."

Explore further: Small molecules can starve cancer cells

More information: Huibin Tang, Myung Lee, Orr Sharpe, Louis Salamone, Emily J. Noonan, Chuong D. Hoang, Sanford Levine, William H. Robinson, and Joseph B. Shrager. Oxidative stress-responsive microRNA-320 regulates glycolysis in diverse biological systems. FASEB J. doi:10.1096/fj.11-197467

Related Stories

Small molecules can starve cancer cells

October 9, 2011
All cells in our body have a system that can handle cellular waste and release building blocks for recycling. The underlying mechanism is called autophagy and literally means "self-eating". Many cancer cells have increased ...

No workout? No worries: Scientists prevent muscle loss in mice, despite disease and inactivity

February 29, 2012
If you want big muscles without working out, there's hope. In the March 2012 print issue of the FASEB Journal, scientists from the University of Florida report that a family of protein transcription factors, called "Forkhead ...

Recommended for you

Cancer-death button gets jammed by gut bacterium

July 27, 2017
Researchers at Michigan Medicine and in China showed that a type of bacterium is associated with the recurrence of colorectal cancer and poor outcomes. They found that Fusobacterium nucleatum in the gut can stop chemotherapy ...

Researchers release first draft of a genome-wide cancer 'dependency map'

July 27, 2017
In one of the largest efforts to build a comprehensive catalog of genetic vulnerabilities in cancer, researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have identified more than 760 genes ...

Long-sought mechanism of metastasis is discovered in pancreatic cancer

July 27, 2017
Cells, just like people, have memories. They retain molecular markers that at the beginning of their existence helped guide their development. Cells that become cancerous may be making use of these early memories to power ...

Blocking the back-door that cancer cells use to escape death by radiotherapy

July 27, 2017
A natural healing mechanism of the body may be reducing the efficiency of radiotherapy in breast cancer patients, according to a new study.

Manmade peptides reduce breast cancer's spread

July 27, 2017
Manmade peptides that directly disrupt the inner workings of a gene known to support cancer's spread significantly reduce metastasis in a mouse model of breast cancer, scientists say.

Glowing tumor technology helps surgeons remove hidden cancer cells

July 27, 2017
Surgeons were able to identify and remove a greater number of cancerous nodules from lung cancer patients when combining intraoperative molecular imaging (IMI) - through the use of a contrast agent that makes tumor cells ...

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.