(RxWiki News) Just as we do, cancer cells have their own metabolism. It's how they nourish themselves to keep growing. Zeroing in on this activity and specific genes associated with cell metabolism opens up a whole new world of therapeutic possibilities.
Scientists have found a gene that possibly plays a key role in prostate cancer cells growing and spreading. This could lead to new therapies that target cell metabolism and keep cancer from traveling throughout the body.
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A research team led by Almut Schulze, Ph.D., a group leader in the Gene Expression Analysis Laboratory at Cancer Research U.K., analyzed metastatic prostate cancer cell lines and compared what they found with normal prostate cells.
Schulze said, “Cancer metabolism is a new and emerging target that can be exploited as a potential therapeutic, and our study identified one of the components for the growth of these cancer cells.”
The team observed and analyzed the effect of switching off or silencing 222 metabolic molecules to see if the cell lines could survive.
Investigators learned of the complexity of prostate cancer metabolism and in the process, pinpointed the genes that are required for cell survival.
One specific gene - PFKFB4 - was essential in a number of metabolic processes, the researchers learned. When levels of this gene were lowered in laboratory models, tumor growth was blocked. Conversely, higher levels of the gene were seen in metastatic prostate cancer cell lines.
Schulze concludes that this gene could be targeted with new therapies. She also thinks these findings could apply to other cancers.
This research was published March 22, 2012 in Cancer Discovery, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Cancer Research U.K. funded the research.