What Liver Cancer And Glucose Have In Common

Hepatocellular carcinoma molecule could become new drug target

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Did you know that liver cells help produce glucose as a means of helping the body maintain healthy blood-sugar levels?  And when the liver starts to get sick, it loses this ability. Knowing this could open new cancer treatment opportunities.

When cancer starts to take over, the liver stops helping to produce glucose. This process may help the cancer to grow, and reversing the process may help to treat liver cancer.

"Limit your alcohol consumption to one or two a day."

These are the findings of researchers at The Ohio State Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).

Samson T. Jacob, PhD, professor of molecular and cellular biochemistry in the Hematology and Oncology department at Ohio State and co-leader of the OSUCCC – James Experimental Therapeutics Program, led the study.

The process being studied is known as gluconeogenesis. Having too much (over-expression) of the molecule called microRNA-23a plays a key role in gluconeogenesis.

The team created an animal model of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common form of liver cancer. Tumor samples from patients and HCC cell lines were also studied.

Scientists found that levels of miR-23a were high both in the animal model and in tumor samples. They uncovered the behavior of this molecule and its interaction with various enzymes leads to the decreased glucose production in HCC.

“It is conceivable that delivery of an anti-miR23a to the tumor site could reverse this,” Dr. Jacob said.

This research, which appeared in July in the journal Hepatology, was supported by the National Cancer Institute and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Financial disclosures were not available.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 31, 2012
Last Updated:
August 1, 2012