Old but important news: Eliminating sugar can slow cancer growth.
Researchers were aware that all cancer cells are attracted to sugar, grabbing it from the blood before using it to fuel their growth. In breast cancer the process involves binding proteins called CtBPs together to form pairs known as dimers. These in turn help the cells to multiply and proliferate. Dr Jeremy Blaydes of the University of Southampton found that chemicals called cyclic peptide inhibitors can block CtBPs and prevent the dimers forming. The most successful of CtBP blocker, known as CP61, is now being developed as a potential new breast cancer drug.
This concept was put forth in the lecture given by Otto Warburg at his Nobel ceremony in 1931. The short story: cancerous cells rely more on sugar for their energy consumption than normal cells.
In related news, a new technique for detecting cancer by imaging the consumption of sugar with MRI has been unveiled by University College London scientists.
A research team jointly led by scientists from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the University of California, Los Angeles, have enhanced a device they developed to identify and “grab” circulating tumor cells, or CTCs, that break away from cancers and enter the blood, often leading to the spread of cancer to other parts of the body.
If more studies confirm the technology’s effectiveness, the NanoVelcro Chip device could enable doctors to access and identify cancerous cells in the bloodstream, which would provide the diagnostic information needed to create individually tailored treatments for patients with prostate cancer.
With the new system, a patient’s blood is pumped through the NanoVelcro Chip — the microvilli protruding from the cancer cells will stick to the nanofiber structures on the device’s surface, much like Velcro. This phenomenon facilitates the capture of rare CTCs in the blood stream. Next, laser capture microdissection technology allows the scientists to selectively cut out and pick up the CTCs from the NanoVelcro Chip, virtually eliminating any trace of any contamination from white blood cells, which can complicate analysis. Finally, the isolated and purified CTCs are subjected to single cell “next-generation” sequencing, which reveals mutations in the genetic material of the cells and may help doctors personalize therapies to a patient’s unique cancer.
“To date, CTC capture technologies have been able to do little more than count the number of CTCs, which is informative but not very useful from a treatment planning perspective. It is a scientific breakthrough to have the ability to isolate pure CTCs and maintain their integrity for sophisticated genomic and behavioral analyses,” said Hsian-Rong Tseng, PhD, associate professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at UCLA and the inventor of the NanoVelcro Chip concept and device.