Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cancer's sweet tooth may be its weak link

Date:
November 17, 2011
Source:
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Summary:
Researchers have discovered that cancer cells tap into a natural recycling system to obtain the energy they need to keep dividing. In a study with potential implications for cancer treatments, researchers used genetic manipulation to turn off this recycling system within the walls of cells and stop both tumor growth and metastasis (cancer spread).

Images of metastasis (tumor spread) in lungs of two mice: untreated tumor (left) and a tumor in which autophagy has been blocked (right). Metastatic areas are dark pink (arrows). A tumor’s ability to metastasize decreases dramatically when autophagy is halted.
Credit: Image courtesy of Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have discovered that cancer cells tap into a natural recycling system to obtain the energy they need to keep dividing. In a study with potential implications for cancer treatments, Einstein researchers used genetic manipulation to turn off this recycling system within the walls of cells and stop both tumor growth and metastasis (cancer spread).

The findings were published in today's online edition of Science Translational Medicine.

Scientists have known that cancer cells require a large amount of energy in the form of glucose (sugar) to support their abnormally rapid growth. But it wasn't clear how cancer cells met those energy needs. The study shows that cancer cells fuel their growth by revving up autophagy, a recycling process that occurs in cell compartments called lysosomes.

During autophagy, which literally means "self-eating," Pac-Man-like lysosomes digest worn-out proteins and other damaged cellular components. "But lysosomes are not merely trash containers," said Ana Maria Cuervo, M.D., Ph.D., the paper's senior author and professor of developmental and molecular biology, of anatomy and structural biology and of medicine. "They are more like little recycling plants in which cellular debris is transformed into energy. Cancer cells seem to have learned how to optimize this system to obtain the energy they need."

Dr. Cuervo and her colleagues detected unusually high levels of chaperone-mediated autophagy, one of the types of autophagy, in cells from more than 40 types of human tumors -- but not in healthy tissue surrounding the tumors. (In chaperone-mediated autophagy, small proteins guide debris to the lysosomes for digestion.)

"When we used genetic manipulation to block the activity of this recycling process, the cancer cells stopped dividing and most of them died," Dr. Cuervo said. "We also applied this procedure to tumors in mice, resulting in dramatic tumor shrinkage and almost complete blockage of metastasis."

The researchers believe that selectively blocking this type of autophagy in cancer cells could be a useful strategy for shrinking tumors and halting metastasis. "In future research, we hope to develop drugs that can mimic what we have done using genetic manipulation," said Dr. Cuervo. "We are also exploring using genetic manipulation itself for treating different types of lung cancer."

The paper is titled "Chaperone-mediated autophagy is required for tumor growth." Maria Kon, an M.D./Ph.D. student at Einstein, is the first author. Other contributors include Roberta Kiffin, Ph.D., Hiroshi Koga, Ph.D., Javier Chapochnick, M.D., and Fernando Macian-Juan, M.D., Ph.D., all of Einstein, and Lyuba Varticovski, M.D., of the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland.This research was supported with grants from the National Institute on Aging and the National Cancer Institute, both parts of the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Maria Kon, Roberta Kiffin, Hiroshi Koga, Javier Chapochnick, Fernando Macian, Lyuba Varticovski, Ana Maria Cuervo. Chaperone-Mediated Autophagy Is Required for Tumor Growth. Science Translational Medicine, 2011; 3 (109): 109ra117 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3003182

Cite This Page:

Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "Cancer's sweet tooth may be its weak link." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111116143045.htm>.
Albert Einstein College of Medicine. (2011, November 17). Cancer's sweet tooth may be its weak link. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111116143045.htm
Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "Cancer's sweet tooth may be its weak link." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111116143045.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mini Pacemaker Has No Wires

Mini Pacemaker Has No Wires

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Cardiac experts are testing a new experimental device designed to eliminate major surgery and still keep the heart on track. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
After Cancer: Rebuilding Breasts With Fat

After Cancer: Rebuilding Breasts With Fat

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) More than 269 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Many of them will need surgery and radiation, but there’s a new simple way to reconstruct tissue using a patient’s own fat. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood Clots in Kids

Blood Clots in Kids

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Every year, up to 200,000 Americans die from a blood clot that travels to their lungs. You’ve heard about clots in adults, but new research shows kids can get them too. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Radio Waves Knock out Knee Pain

Radio Waves Knock out Knee Pain

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Doctors have used radio frequency ablation or RFA to reduce neck and back pain for years. But now, that same technique is providing longer-term relief for patients with severe knee pain. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins