New Mechanisms of Drug-Resistant Cancer Cells Discovered

Researchers have discovered a mechanism that allows cancer cells to survive without nutrients.

Researchers from a recent study discovered why cancer cells resist drugs designed to block their energy and blood supply needed for cell growth and survival.

In a study published by Cancer Cell, researchers discovered a biochemical mechanism that allows the cells to survive without their energy supply of glucose. They found that cancer cells have a group of proteins that can detect whether glucose is present, and can act as a switch if it is not.

If the energy supply is available, the cells use 1 path to survive and proliferate; however, if it is not available, the switch triggers an alternative route to allow survival, according to the study.

“Tumor cells are very smart; when 1 door that seemed essential for their growth and proliferation closes, they open new ones that allow them to adapt to any stress and survive,” said study lead author Nabil Djouder, PhD. “This is why they develop highly sophisticated mechanisms and learn to survive, and this is why it is so difficult to cure cancer.”

The anti-angiogenic agents prevent the growth of blood vessels for the tumor and, in theory, starve the cancer of nutrients; however, this is not always the case. Researchers believe their findings show how cancer cells can survive in these conditions, and in parts of the tumor with limited blood supply, according to the study.

While the findings do not lend an immediate solution to this issue, it does increase awareness about the biochemical mechanisms of cancer cells, the study concluded.