Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Follow the Food

Discriminating between cancer and non-cancer cells by virtue of differently active metabolic enzymes

12 September 2020

Follow the Food

Like an evil corporation with nefarious goals that's staffed in part by everyday people just doing their jobs, tumours are composed of both cancer cells (green in the mouse pancreatic tumour pictured) and non-cancer cells. Being able to specifically target the cancer cells would be an efficient way of bringing the tumour down, and a new study aims to identify them by their unique eating habits. Cancer cells process nutrients differently, and this helps them grow in different ways, but it’s proven hard to study this due to the close interaction between cancer and non-cancer cells. The researchers provided mice with sugar that was labelled and trackable, so could follow its progress through the cancer and non-cancer cells in the tumour, and revealed raised activity of two enzymes in the cancer cells. Insights like this could help develop new drugs to tackle cancer in more efficient and effective ways.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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