Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Painting a 'bullseye' on cancer cells

22.08.2011
Targeting cancer cell metabolism can lead to more effective therapy, Tel Aviv University research finds

Scientists are constantly on the hunt for treatments that can selectively target cancer cells, leaving other cells in our bodies unharmed. Now, Prof. Eytan Ruppin of Tel Aviv University's Blavatnik School of Computer Science and Sackler Faculty of Medicine and his colleagues Prof. Eyal Gottlieb of the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow, UK, and Dr. Tomer Shlomi of the Technion in Haifa have taken a big step forward. They have successfully created the first computerized genome-scale model of cancer cell metabolism, which can be used to predict which drugs are lethal to the function of a cancer cell's metabolism.

By inhibiting their unique metabolic signatures, explains Prof. Ruppin, cancer cells can be killed off in a specific and selective manner. The efficacy of this method has been demonstrated in both computer and laboratory models pertaining to kidney cancer. Because the researchers' new approach is generic, it holds promise for future investigations aimed at effective drug therapies for other types of cancer as well.

The results were recently published in the journal Nature.

Lethal to cancer, safe for other cells

The ability to specifically target cancer cells is the holy grail of cancer research. Currently, many cancer drugs are designed to target any proliferating cells in the body — and while cancer cells certainly proliferate, so do healthy cells, such as hair and gut lining cells, the growth of which are essential to the body's overall health. This explains why many cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, have adverse side effects like nausea and hair loss.

Targeting the metabolism of the cancer cell itself may be one of the most effective ways forward. Cancer cells have a special way of metabolizing nutrients for growth and for energy. This makes cancer cell metabolism essentially different from that of a normal cell.

The researchers' computer model is a reconstruction of the thousands of metabolic reactions that characterize cancer cells. By comparing it to a pre-existing model of a normal human cell's metabolism, they could distinguish the differences between the two. They could then identify drug targets with the potential to affect the specific, special characteristics of cancer metabolism.

To test their predictions, the researchers chose to target cells from a specific type of renal cancer. "In this type of renal cancer, we predicted that using a drug that would specifically inhibit the enzyme HMOX, involved in Heme metabolism, would selectively and efficiently kill cancer cells, leaving normal cells intact," explains Prof. Ruppin. Their computer model led them to hypothesize that the Heme pathway was essential for the cancer cell's metabolism.

In an experimental study led by Prof. Gottlieb's lab, the researchers were able to verify this prediction in both mouse and human cell models, and to study these metabolic alterations in depth.

An all-around treatment model

Metabolism is a large and complex network, built on thousands of reactions. It is beyond the human capability to fully understand, let alone predict how such a complicated system works, says Prof. Ruppin. Now, by allowing researchers to simulate the effects of a disorder, computer models are helping researchers to predict the efficacy of potential drugs and treatments. Though the predictions should always be verified in a lab or clinic, this method is highly cost effective and leads to exciting opportunities for accelerating future drug developments.

While the first model was built to characterize a specific type of cancer, this approach can be applied in the future for creating models for other types of cancer. "This is the next big challenge for us," says Prof. Ruppin. "We are going to continue to build models for other types of cancer, and seek selective drug therapies to defeat them." Their multidisciplinary approach requires both the predictions of a computer model and the findings of experimental clinical trials, and may lead to the faster development of more selective and effective cancer treatments.

American Friends of Tel Aviv University (www.aftau.org) supports Israel's leading, most comprehensive and most sought-after center of higher learning. Independently ranked 94th among the world's top universities for the impact of its research, TAU's innovations and discoveries are cited more often by the global scientific community than all but 10 other universities.

Internationally recognized for the scope and groundbreaking nature of its research and scholarship, Tel Aviv University consistently produces work with profound implications for the future.

George Hunka | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.aftau.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First line of defence against influenza further decoded
21.02.2018 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

nachricht Helping in spite of risk: Ants perform risk-averse sanitary care of infectious nest mates
21.02.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helping in spite of risk: Ants perform risk-averse sanitary care of infectious nest mates

21.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Fraunhofer ISE Supports Market Development of Solar Thermal Power Plants in the MENA Region

21.02.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

A variety of designs for OLED lighting in one easy kit

21.02.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>