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 Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden

nachricht The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>