Lung Cancer: Swiss Research Shows That Inhibiting Sugar Metabolism Reduces Growth Of Lung Cancer Tumors
A new study by Swiss researches show that
blocking a pair of sugar-transporting proteins may be a useful treatment approach for lung cancer
as it could help slow the growth of tumors.
It is a well-known fact that cancer cells use a lot of sugar to fuel their rapid growth and spread.
Hence this has led scientists to consider cutting off their sugar supply as a way to treat cancer. The current study suggests this could be an effective approach but it will be necessary to block multiple pathways at once to be effective.
Certain proteins called glucose transporters supply sugar to cells making them an appealing target for therapies intended to starve cancer cells. But scientists don’t know the best ways to do this, or if cancer cells would just switch to alternative fuel sources if they are denied sugar.
Lead author Dr Caroline Contat, a PhD student and Doctoral Assistant at the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research, EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland told Thailand Medical News, “Inhibiting sugar use in lung tumors could be an efficient treatment strategy, but whether glucose transporters should be targeted and which ones to target remains unclear.”.
To investigate, Dr Contat and her colleagues genetically engineered mice with lung cancer that were missing a glucose transport protein called Glut1 or an alternate sugar transporter called Glut3. The team found that tumors grew just as fast in the mice lacking Glut1 or Glut3 as they did in mice with both transporters.
Significantly when they genetically engineered mice with lung cancer that lack both Glut1 and Glut3, they found that the animals grew fewer tumors and survived longer. By using an imaging technology called positron emission tomography (PET) and sugar labeled with radioactive tags, the team confirmed that the tumors used less sugar. The tumor cells also grew more slowly.
Lastly, they deleted Glut1 and Glut3 in four different human lung cancer cell lines grown in the laboratory, which caused these cells to grow more slowly.
Dr Contat said, “These studies and experiments suggest Glut1 and Glut3 together are needed to fuel the growth of lung cancer.”
The research findings were published in the journal: eLife. https://elifesciences.org/articles/53618
Utilizing nanoscale imaging studies, the research team also found that most of the sugar-derived biomass in mouse lung tumor cells accumulates in cellular compartments called lamellar bodies and that Glut1 is necessary for this fuel storage.
Senior author Etienne Meylan, Assistant Professor at the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research, EPFL commented, “While more studies of these tumor fuel storage compartments are needed, our results suggest a new approach to lung cancer treatment that focuses on starving tumor cells of energy. In particular, treatments that block Glut1 and Glut3 simultaneously will be necessary to help stop lung tumor growth.”
The team is also exploring pharmaceuticals and potential therapeutic compounds that can block these proteins.
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