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Hundreds of alterations and potential drug targets to starve tumors identified
Date:4/22/2013

NEW YORKA massive study analyzing gene expression data from 22 tumor types has identified multiple metabolic expression changes associated with cancer. The analysis, conducted by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center, also identified hundreds of potential drug targets that could cut off a tumor's fuel supply or interfere with its ability to synthesize essential building blocks. The study was published today in the online edition of Nature Biotechnology.

The results should ramp up research into drugs that interfere with cancer metabolism, a field that dominated cancer research in the early 20th century and has recently undergone a renaissance. [Fuel Lines of Tumors Are New Target: http://nyti.ms/10QMkY1]

"The importance of this new study is its scope," said Dennis Vitkup, PhD, associate professor of biomedical informatics (in the Initiative in Systems Biology) at CUMC, the study's lead investigator. "So far, people have focused mainly on a few genes involved in major metabolic processes. Our study provides a comprehensive, global view of diverse metabolic alterations at the level of gene expression."

Cell metabolism is a dynamic network of reactions inside cells that process nutrients, such as glucose, to obtain energy and synthesize building blocks needed to produce new cellular components. To support uncontrolled proliferation, cancer needs to significantly reprogram and "supercharge" a cell's normal metabolic pathways.

The first researcher to notice cancer's special metabolism was German biochemist Otto Warburg, who in 1924 observed that cancer cells had a peculiar way of utilizing glucose to make energy for the cell. "Although a list of biochemical pathways in normal cells was comprehensively mapped during the last century," said Dr. Vitkup. "We still lack a complete understanding of their usage, regulation, and reprogramming in cancer."

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Contact: Karin Eskenazi
ket2116@cumc.columbia.edu
212-342-0508
Columbia University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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