August 17, 2009
Contact: Jennifer Z. Ekman, Office of Public Relations, (251) 460-6360
USA Mitchell Cancer Institute Researchers Find that Shutting Down Cancer’s Energy Supply an Effective Strategy Against Breast Cancer

University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer Institute researchers have found that the growth of breast cancer cells can be slowed by shutting down an enzyme pathway that produces cellular energy supplies.

The findings have been published online on the website of the leading cancer research journal, Oncogene. A link to the website can be found here.

The MCI researchers were led by Dr. Ming Tan, assistant professor of Oncologic Sciences and Vincent F. Kilborn, Jr. Cancer Research Scholar. The other MCI researchers on the study are Drs. Yuhua Zhao, Ming Zhou, Hao Liu, Yan Ding, Hung Khong, and Oystein Fodstad.

Normal cells rely on a process which consumes oxygen and glucose to make energy. In contrast, cancer cells depend mostly on sugar metabolism, known as glycolysis. Cancer cells consume far more sugar than normal cells to maintain sufficient energy supplies, becoming addicted to glycolysis. Recent studies found that this unique property is an Achilles' Heel for cancer cells. By understanding the unique energy demands of cancer cells, researchers may be able to design drugs to target this weakness.

The USA researchers found that up-regulation of LDH-A by ErbB2 through HSF1 promotes breast cancer cell glycolysis and growth. By knocking down one of the pathway's enzymes, LDH-A, and a glycolysis-regulating transcription factor HSF1, in a variety of fast-growing breast cancer cells, they effectively shut down glycolysis, inhibiting the growth of these breast cancer cells.
Of the research, Dr. Tan said, "Cancer metabolism has emerged as one of the most exciting areas of cancer research that may open a new therapeutic avenue and may bring new hope for cancer patients. The pre-clinical studies described in this article may lead to translation into clinical trial and may ultimately benefit many cancer patients in the future."

The research was funded through the Vincent F. Kilborn, Jr. Cancer Research Foundation of USA, and the Radiumhospitalets Legater of the University of Oslo in Norway.

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