Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Scientists reveal cells ‘energy factories’ linked to cancer


University of Glasgow scientists have discovered how mitochondria - the energy factories in our cells - can sustain a cancer, reporting their findings in a new study published in Cancer Cell.

Mitochondria are complex structures that exist in cells to generate energy for growth and activity. The Cancer Research UK researchers based at the University of Glasgow’s Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow have found out how the excessive build-up of a simple metabolic molecule in mitochondria can trigger a sequence of events that leads to tumour growth.

The discovery increases our understanding of the molecular basis of several types of cancer, which is crucial for the development of new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease. Scientists know that a number of genes that code for the mitochondria’s energy generating machinery are tumour suppressors and that defects in these genes can lead to cancer. But, until now, it was unclear as to how mutations in these genes resulted in the disease.

The team looked at one of the known tumour suppressor genes called SDH, which codes for a molecule called succinate dehydrogenase. When the SDH gene is damaged, a metabolic product called succinic acid accumulates in cells. This then causes the levels of a protein called HIF-1to rise. The HIF-1 protein is normally only activated in response to certain types of crisis in the cell, such as a lack of oxygen. Under these conditions it encourages the growth of blood vessels to help cells get more oxygen.

The researchers have found the missing pieces in this puzzle. They show how the high levels of succinic acid in the cell that result from SDH mutations block the cell’s usual method of ridding the cell of HIF-1. HIF-1 levels can then build up, resulting in inappropriate growth of blood vessels, which can feed a tumour.

Dr Eyal Gottlieb, a Cancer Research UK scientist based at the University of Glasgow’s Beatson Institute in Glasgow, says: “We found that damage to the SDH gene boosts the levels of succinic acid in a cell and this, in turn, prevents the degradation of HIF-1. HIF-1 is then free to increase the expression of genes that facilitate blood vessel growth, tumour development and cancer spread.

Dr Lesley Walker, Director of Cancer Information at Cancer Research UK, says: “Mutations in SDH can predispose a person to cancer of the kidney, adrenal gland and thyroid gland. Changes in SDH activity may also be associated with stomach and bowel cancer.

“This study is exciting because it is the first to find a molecular mechanism that links mitochondrial mutations to tumour formation. Increasing our understanding of the molecular basis of cancer is crucial if we are to find new ways of preventing, diagnosing and treating the disease in the future.”

Jenny Murray | alfa
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 >>>