Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


VCU Massey Research Finds New Link between Inflammation and Cancer

Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center researchers have uncovered a new link between chronic inflammation and cancer. Although cancers do not always cause inflammation, chronic inflammation is known to help tumor cells grow.

In an article published in the June issue of Nature, VCU Massey scientists Sarah Spiegel, Ph.D., and Tomasz Kordula, Ph.D., and their co-authors examine how sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), a lipid mediator in the blood that influences immune cell circulation, also regulates inflammation and cancer. They reported that S1P is a missing cofactor that is required for the activity of TRAF2, the key regulator of NF-kappaB, which acts as a master on-off switch in controlling inflammation and cancer.

Spiegel, who is internationally recognized for her pioneering work on bioactive lipid signaling, discovered almost two decades ago that S1P is a potent lipid mediator that stimulates cell growth. S1P and the kinase that produces it, SphK1, have since emerged as critical regulators of numerous fundamental biological processes affecting health and disease.

“It is difficult to find an area of physiology and pathophysiology in which S1P does not have important if not key roles. Appropriate to its name, which is associated with the enigma of the Sphinx, how S1P so profoundly regulates cell fate decisions has long remained a mystery,” said Spiegel, co-leader of VCU Massey’s Cancer Cell Signaling Program and chair of VCU School of Medicine’s Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department.

The puzzle of how such a simple molecule as S1P can have diverse roles has been solved by VCU Massey researchers’ discovery that this lipid mediator functions not only as a “first messenger,” a ligand or agonist that binds to specific cell surface receptors, but also inside the cells as an “intracellular second messenger” that is required for activation of the transcription factor NF-kappaB.

These findings also provide an explanation for the numerous observations of the importance of the enzyme that produces S1P, SphK1, in protection of cancer cells against chemotherapeutic drugs and the correlation of its levels with poor prognosis of many types of cancers, including breast, colorectal and brain.

Spiegel hopes that specific SphK1 inhibitors they are developing will pave the way for future potent and specific drugs that target SphK1 for the treatment of cancer.

Spiegel and Kordula collaborated with researchers Sergio E. Alvarez, Ph.D.; Harikumar B. Kuzhuvelil; Ph.D.; Nitai C. Hait, Ph.D.; Jeremy Allegood, Ph.D.; Graham M. Strub, M.D./Ph.D. student; Eugene Y. Kim, Ph.D.; Michael Maceyka, Ph.D.; and Sheldon Milstien, Ph.D. – all from VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU School of Medicine’s Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department – as well as Hualiang Jiang, Ph.D., and Cheng Luo, Ph.D., of the State Key Laboratory of Drug Research at Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica at Chinese Academy of Sciences.

View the full article at

About the VCU Massey Cancer Center
VCU Massey Cancer Center is one of only 65 National Cancer Institute-designated institutions in the country that leads and shapes America’s cancer research efforts. Working with all kinds of cancers, the Center conducts basic, translational and clinical cancer research, provides state-of-the-art treatments and clinical trials, and promotes cancer prevention and education. Since 1974, Massey has served as an internationally recognized center of excellence. It offers a wide range of clinical trials throughout Virginia, oftentimes the most trials in the state, and serves patients in Richmond and in four satellite locations. Its 1,000 researchers, clinicians and staff members are dedicated to improving the quality of human life by developing and delivering effective means to prevent, control and ultimately to cure cancer. Visit Massey online at or call 1-877-4-MASSEY.

Jenny Owen | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>