Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Obesity drug helps unlock clues about cancer

An approved drug for fighting obesity is helping scientists at Wake Forest University School of Medicine uncover clues about how to stop the growth of cancerous tumors.

"Our discovery makes an exciting treatment target because theoretically you don't have to worry about harming nearby healthy tissue," said senior researcher Steven J. Kridel, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Cancer Biology.

In the current issue of Cancer Research, Kridel and colleagues are the first to report that a tubular network within cells, known as the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), is regulated by an enzyme that is tightly linked to tumor growth and development.

"When the ER cannot do its job properly, there's a series of events that gets turned on that can lead to cell suicide or death," said Kridel.

... more about:
»Cancer »Kridel »acid »enzyme »synthase »tumor cells

The research showed that an enzyme known as fatty acid synthase is vital for the ER to do its job. Blocking this enzyme, which makes fat in cells, has been shown to prevent tumor cell growth and to promote cell death.

"No one had made connection before between fatty acid synthase and the function of the ER in tumor cells," said Kridel. "This is the first to show that fatty acid synthesis is important in maintaining ER function and keeping tumor cells alive."

The researchers started the work five years ago when they analyzed prostate cancer cells to see which proteins and enzymes were expressed at high levels. Their hope was that treatments that reduced those levels could also stop tumor growth.

"We found that fatty acid synthase is expressed at high levels in tumor cells, but is fairly absent in normal cells," said Kridel. "Other researchers had made similar findings in other types of cancer cells, so we decided to follow up because it looked promising.

"We then made the surprising finding that OrlistatTM, a drug approved by the FDA to treat obesity, can block the function of fatty acid synthase, prevent tumor cell growth and promote tumor cell death."

Finding out exactly how the drug worked was the next step, so that better treatments could be developed. While effective in mice, Olistat's current formulation cannot be given to humans as a cancer treatment because it acts only in the digestive tract.

In the current study, Kridel and colleagues treated prostate, colon and cervical cancer cells in the laboratory with Olistat and two other agents to understand why blocking fatty acid synthase induces cell death.

"Our goal was to understand how fatty acid synthase contributes to tumor growth," said Kridel. "This might provide an explanation for why this enzyme is expressed at high levels."

Now that the scientists understand that the ER is involved -- and that inhibiting fatty acid synthase can impair its function -- they are working to develop new treatments for cancer therapy.

They are exploring the possibility of using existing FDA-approved drugs, as well as developing new drugs. They've already determined that the structure of Orlistat bound to fatty acid synthase, which is the first step in developing similar agents that could be used in humans.

"Our latest findings that connect fatty acid synthase and ER function gives us a better understanding about how the drug kills tumor cells and give us clues to make better drugs," said Kridel. "For any drugs we develop, we'll need to show that they impair the function of the ER."

Karen Richardson | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Cancer Kridel acid enzyme synthase tumor cells

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1
27.10.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute

nachricht 'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape
27.10.2016 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)

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

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>