Health + Behavior

UCLA study shows tumors are not as addicted to glucose as previously thought

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Lactate production
Nature Communications/UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center

Squamous cell skin cancer tumors with purple regions indicating lactate production, a byproduct of glucose consumption. Even with lactate production blocked (left), a tumor grew at the same rate as a tumor with normal lactate production (right).

Scientists at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA have discovered that squamous cell skin cancers do not require increased glucose to power their development and growth, contrary to a long-held belief about cancer metabolism.

The findings could lead to a better understanding of the metabolic needs of many different types of cancer, and to the development of new cancer treatments. The research, led by senior authors Heather Christofk and Bill Lowry, was published in the journal Nature Communications.

“These findings suggest that tumors are metabolically flexible and can use nutrients other than glucose to fuel growth,” said Christofk, a UCLA associate professor of biological chemistry and of molecular and medical pharmacology. “Understanding all of the nutrients cancers use for growth is critical to developing drugs that can successfully target cancer’s metabolism.”

Read the full news release.

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