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Research team targets self-cannibalizing cancer cells
Date:2/11/2010

uires knowledge about the metabolism of the cancerous cells and the stromal cells in the tumor, which often constitute a large percentage of the tumor itself, as well as an awareness of how the metabolism of cancerous and noncancerous cells affect one another. Supported by the NIH Challenge Grant, the interdisciplinary team is seeking to define the metabolic networks in stromal and tumor cells, identify the metabolic adaptations that take place as cells transition between different metabolic states, and demonstrate how these changes alter tumor-stromal interaction. The team also is supported by grants from CINJ and the New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research.

The research effort makes use of wide-ranging scientific techniques, including DNA microarray analyses to identify the gene expression changes that underlie metabolic alterations and state-of-the-art methods to identify altered metabolic states by quantifying the concentrations of metabolites -- compounds generated during biological processes that provide chemical clues into which metabolic processes are taking place -- and watching how they change over time.

To do this, the team relies on Rabinowitz's expertise in the use of mass spectrometry to observe the flows, or fluxes, of metabolites that have been labeled with stable isotopic tracers -- nuclei which, like radioactive tracers, have extra neutrons. These tracers are not radioactive, however; instead, they are detected solely based on their different masses.

"If you only take a snapshot of which metabolites are present at any given time, you can miss the bigger picture of what is taking place, especially because many metabolites turn over every few seconds," said Rabinowitz, an associate professor of chemistry and genomics. "Adding isotope-labeled nutrient is the equivalent of determining how fast a stream is moving by adding red food coloring at a given point upstream and seeing how long it takes for the food coloring to make
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Contact: Kitta MacPherson
kittamac@princeton.edu
609-258-5729
Princeton University
Source:Eurekalert  

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