New Molecule Could Stop Cancer Cell Metabolism

Destabilized cell metabolism can lead to the creation of tumors.

Destabilized cell metabolism can lead to the creation of tumors.

A University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center team has isolated a molecule that could stop cancer metabolism.

If cell metabolism destabilizes, it can lead to rapid, uncontrolled cell growth, which creates tumors. A team of researchers, led by Mong-Hong Lee, PhD, professor of Molecular and Cellular Oncology, has identified a molecule responsible for controlling cell growth: 14-3-3 sigma.

"We anticipate that pharmacologically elevating 14-3-3 sigma's function in tumors could be a promising direction for targeted anti-cancer metabolism therapy development in the future," Lee said.

The sigma was shown to regulate cancer cell metabolism and protects healthy cells from becoming cancerous. It also suppresses cancer glycolysis, the main process through which cancer cells gain energy to fuel their rapid metabolisms.

"14-3-3 sigma expression levels can help predict overall and recurrence-free survival rates, tumor glucose uptake, and metabolic gene expression in breast cancer patients," Lee said. "These results highlight that 14-3-3 sigma is an important regulator of tumor metabolism, and loss of 14-3-3 sigma expression is critical for cancer metabolic reprogramming."

Lee hopes that these new findings could lead to a better understanding of cancer metabolism, and perhaps the development of a drug to suppress it.

These findings were published in the July 16, 2015 issue of Nature Communications.