Cancer: Using cell metabolism to fight stubborn tumors

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Cancer: Using cell metabolism to fight stubborn tumors

Is there a new way to target cancer cells?

A better understanding of metabolism in tumor cells that evade drugs could improve cancer treatments, according to new research from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio.

Some tumors are hard to treat because while at first they respond to cancer drugs, some cells are able to survive and seed new tumors.

The surviving cells do this by increasing a “self-eating” process through which they eliminate waste, remove faulty components and pathogens, and recycle essential molecular building blocks.

The process, known as autophagy, delivers the waste to cell compartments called lysosomes. These contain different types of enzymes for digesting and breaking down the various materials.

Autophagy is also a survival mechanism that switches on when nutrients are scarce and switches off again when nutrients are plentiful.

“We found that cell metabolism significantly influences the ability to begin autophagy,” says lead investigator Carol Mercer, an associate professor in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio.

She and her colleagues report their findings — which reveal “the dynamic and metabolic regulation of autophagy” — in a paper that is now published in the journal Cell Reports.

Read on: Cancer: Using cell metabolism to fight stubborn tumors

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