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UT Dallas study suggests new approach to fight lung cancer
Date:6/18/2013

Recent research has shown that cancer cells have a much different and more complex metabolism than normal cells. Now, scientists at The University of Texas at Dallas have found that exploiting these differences might provide a new strategy to combat lung cancer.

In an article published online May 21 in the journal PLOS ONE, UT Dallas researchers compared the metabolic characteristics of non-small-cell lung cancer cells with normal lung cells taken from the same patient.

They found that the cancer cells consumed substantially more oxygen than normal cells, about two and a half times as much. The lung cancer cells also outpaced their normal counterparts in synthesizing a critical chemical called heme.

Heme is an iron-containing molecule that is a component of a variety of hemoproteins, which transport, store and use oxygen throughout the body, among other functions. These proteins directly regulate many processes involved in oxygen metabolism, converting oxygen to the energy that cells need to thrive. For example, heme binds to and transports oxygen to cells via the familiar hemoglobin protein.

"We reasoned that the enhanced oxygen consumption we found in lung cancer cells might be attributable to increased levels of heme and hemoproteins," said Dr. Li Zhang, professor of molecular and cell biology at UT Dallas and senior author of the paper.

To test this possibility, Zhang and biology graduate student Jagmohan Hooda measured and compared the levels of heme that lung cancer cells synthesize and the amount that normal lung cells make.

"All cells need a certain level of heme, but our findings indicate that normal cells need much less heme compared to cancer cells," Zhang said. "We think a high level of heme in cancer cells results in a lot more hemoproteins, which metabolize oxygen and produce more cellular energy. That then drives the cancer cells to proliferate, to migrate and to form colonies.<
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Contact: Amanda Siegfried
amanda.siegfried@utdallas.edu
972-883-4335
University of Texas at Dallas
Source:Eurekalert

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