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Indian-origin scientist identifies cancer’s food sensors

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London: An Indian-origin researcher from Oxford University has identified a protein used by cancer tumours to help them detect food supplies.

Initial results show that targeting the protein could restrict cancerous cells’ ability to grow.

“We found that aggressive cancer cells manufacture more protein named PAT4 which enables them to make better use of available nutrients than the cells around them – including healthy tissue,” said Dr Deborah Goberdhan from Oxford University’s department of physiology, anatomy and genetics.

Cancer cells often have restricted access to the body’s nutrient-rich blood supply.

The ability to sense and acquire nutrients is critical for a cancer to grow.

Dr Goberdhan and cancer researcher Adrian Harris collaborated to develop an antibody that could be used to highlight PAT4 in human tissue samples.

This was then used to study anonymous tumour samples taken from patients with colorectal cancer, a common form of the disease.

The results were compared to the known outcomes for the patients.

Those who had higher levels of PAT4 in their tumours did less well than those with lower levels – being more likely to relapse and die.

The researchers then looked at what happened when PAT4 levels were reduced. They showed that by reducing PAT4 levels, cancerous tumours grew more slowly.

“’These findings support each other. Not only do higher levels of PAT4 mean a worse outcome, but lowering levels improves the situation,” Dr Goberdhan pointed out.

“This means that we have identified a mechanism which cancer cells prefer to use and which we might be able to target as part of a combination treatment,” he concluded.

The research was published in the science journal Oncogene.

(IANS)

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Researchers Discover Balance of Two Enzymes That May Help Treat Pancreatic Cancer

While still in the earliest stages, Newton hoped this information might one day aid pancreatic diagnostics and treatment

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Cancer
Cancer Ribbon. Pixabay

A new research has set the stage for clinicians to potentially use levels of a pancreatic cancer patient’s PHLPP1 and PKC enzymes as a prognostic and for researchers to develop new therapeutic drugs that change the balance of the two enzymes as a means to treat the disease.

The study, published on Wednesday in Molecular Cell, was led by Alexandra Newton, professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, and Timothy Baffi, a graduate student in her lab, Xinhua news agency reported.

The new study built on the team’s work in 2015 that found the enzyme PKC, which was believed in previous studies to promote tumour growth, actually suppressed it.

The latest study took the investigation a step further by uncovering how cells regulate PKC activity and discovered that any time an over-active PKC is inadvertently produced, the PHLPP1 “proofreader” tags it for destruction.

Cancer patient
Cancer patient.

“That means the amount of PHLPP1 in your cells determines your amount of PKC,” Newton said. “And it turns out those enzyme levels are especially important in pancreatic cancer.”

The team observed 105 pancreatic cancer tumours to analyze the enzyme levels in each one. About 50 per cent of patients with low PHLPP1/high PKC lived longer than five-and-a-half years.

Also Read- A Brain Circuit Can Help Reverse Craving for Liquor, Says Study

While still in the earliest stages, Newton hoped this information might one day aid pancreatic diagnostics and treatment.

Pancreatic cancer is caused by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the pancreas, a large gland in the digestive system. It typically doesn’t show symptoms in the early stages. Sufferers tend to develop signs, such as back pain and jaundice, when it has spread to other organs. (IANS)