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Identifying cancer's food sensors may help to halt tumor growth

Protein used by tumors to help them detect food supplies could be targeted to restrict cancerous cells' ability to grow

Date:
October 5, 2015
Source:
University of Oxford
Summary:
A protein used by tumors to help them detect food supplies has been identified by scientists. Initial studies show that targeting the protein could restrict cancerous cells' ability to grow. Anonymous tumor samples from patients with colorectal cancer were compared to the known outcomes for the patients. Those who had higher levels of PAT4 in their tumors did less well than those with lower levels -- being more likely to relapse and die.
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Higher levels of PAT4 in colorectal cancer tumors (brown staining in B) are linked to worse patient outcome.
Credit: Oxford University

Oxford University researchers have identified a protein used by tumours to help them detect food supplies. Initial studies show that targeting the protein could restrict cancerous cells' ability to grow.

A team from Oxford University's Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics led by Dr Deborah Goberdhan worked with cancer doctor and researcher, Professor Adrian Harris, to understand the effects of this protein called PAT4.

Dr Goberdhan said: 'We found that aggressive cancer cells manufacture more PAT4, which enables them to make better use of available nutrients than the cells around them -- including healthy tissue.'

Cancer cells often have restricted access to the body's nutrient-rich blood supply. The ability to sense and acquire nutrients is critical for a cancer to grow.

Dr Goberdhan's and Prof Harris's groups collaborated to develop an antibody that could be used to highlight PAT4 in human tissue samples. This was then used to study anonymous tumour samples taken from patients with colorectal cancer, a common form of the disease.

The results were compared to the known outcomes for the patients. Those who had higher levels of PAT4 in their tumours did less well than those with lower levels -- being more likely to relapse and die.

The researchers then looked at what happened when PAT4 levels were reduced. They showed that by reducing PAT4 levels, cancerous tumours grew more slowly.

Dr Goberdhan said: 'These findings support each other. Not only do higher levels of PAT4 mean a worse outcome, but lowering levels improves the situation. This means that we have identified a mechanism, which cancer cells prefer to use and which we might be able to target as part of a combination treatment.'


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Materials provided by University of Oxford. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S-J Fan, C Snell, H Turley, J-L Li, R McCormick, S M W Perera, S Heublein, S Kazi, A Azad, C Wilson, A L Harris, D C I Goberdhan. PAT4 levels control amino-acid sensitivity of rapamycin-resistant mTORC1 from the Golgi and affect clinical outcome in colorectal cancer. Oncogene, 2015; DOI: 10.1038/onc.2015.363

Cite This Page:

University of Oxford. "Identifying cancer's food sensors may help to halt tumor growth: Protein used by tumors to help them detect food supplies could be targeted to restrict cancerous cells' ability to grow." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 October 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151005080113.htm>.
University of Oxford. (2015, October 5). Identifying cancer's food sensors may help to halt tumor growth: Protein used by tumors to help them detect food supplies could be targeted to restrict cancerous cells' ability to grow. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151005080113.htm
University of Oxford. "Identifying cancer's food sensors may help to halt tumor growth: Protein used by tumors to help them detect food supplies could be targeted to restrict cancerous cells' ability to grow." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151005080113.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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