Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Cell surface transporters exploited for cancer drug delivery

Whitehead Institute scientists report that certain molecules present in high concentrations on the surfaces of many cancer cells could be exploited to funnel lethal toxic molecules into the malignant cells. In such an approach, the overexpression of specific transporters could be exploited to deliver toxic substances into cancer cells.

Although this finding emerges from the study of a single toxic molecule and the protein that it transports, Whitehead Member David Sabatini says this phenomenon could be leveraged more broadly.

"Our work suggests a different strategy for cancer therapy that takes advantage of the capacity of a cancer cell to take up something toxic that a normal cell does not," says Sabatini, who is also a professor of biology at MIT and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator. "As a result, that toxic molecule would kill the cancer cell. By identifying transporters on the surface of cancer cells, you might be able to find a molecule that a specific transporter would carry into the cell, and that molecule would be toxic to that cell. You really could have something that's much more selective to cancer cells."

The Sabatini lab's research is published online today in the journal Nature Genetics.

Kivanc Birsoy, a postdoctoral researcher in Sabatini's lab and first author of the Nature Genetics paper, used a special line of haploid cells developed by former Whitehead Fellow Thijn Brummelkamp to screen for genes that assist cellular entry of 3-bromopyruvate's (3-BrPA), a potential cancer drug in clinical development. 3-BrPA is thought to work by inhibiting glycolysis, a cellular process that releases energy by splitting glucose molecules. Because many cancer cells are heavily dependent on the upregulation of glycolysis, drugs that interrupt this pathway may be effective in targeting these glycolytic cancer cells.

From the screen and massively parallel sequencing, Birsoy identified the gene that codes for the protein monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT1), which is necessary and sufficient for 3-BrPA's transport into cells, where the toxic molecule ultimately kills them. In fact, the level of MCT1 on the surface of glycolytic tumor cells is a predictor of those cells' sensitivity to 3-BrPA—the higher the cells' expression of MCT1, the more sensitive they are to 3-BrPA. This holds true in in vitro and in vivo models across multiple lines of human cancer cells.

The correlation between MCT1 concentration and 3-BrPA sensitivity could be used to help determine how certain malignant tumors are treated.

"This study makes MCT1 a biomarker for 3-BrPA," says Birsoy. "So in the future, if 3-BrPA is approved as a drug, presumably you could predict if a patient's cancer tumor is going to be sensitive by looking at the levels of this molecule. No tumor without MCT1 would respond to treatment with 3-BrPA."

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (CA103866), the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, the Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund, and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Written by Nicole Giese Rura

David Sabatini's primary affiliation is with Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, where his laboratory is located and all his research is conducted. He is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a professor of biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Full Citation:

"MCT1-mediated transport of a toxic molecule is an effective strategy for targeting glycolytic tumors"

Nature Genetics, December 2, 2012, online.

Kivanc Birsoy (1,2), Tim Wang (1), Richard Possemato (1,2), Omer H Yilmaz (1,2), Catherine E Koch (1,2), Walter W Chen (1,2), Amanda W Hutchins (1,2), Yetis Gultekin (1,2), Tim R Peterson (1,2), Jan E Carette (1,6), Thijn R Brummelkamp (1,6), Clary B Clish (3) and David M Sabatini (1).

1. Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

2. Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

3. Broad Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
4. David H Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

5. Howard Hughes Medical Institute, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
6. Present addresses: Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA (J.E.C.) and Department of Biochemistry, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (T.R.B.)

Nicole Rura | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>