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).

Related Articles


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 December 22, 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 December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Scientists in Amsterdam say couples transfer tens of millions of microbes when they kiss, encouraging healthy exposure to bacteria. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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