Cancer tumors, like other living cells, need to consume nutrients and oxygen to sustain themselves. However, as they often live in remote, inaccessible parts of the brain, getting the required nutritional support can be difficult. Recently, scientists at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston discovered an enzyme that aids in getting these nutrients, despite the inhospitable microenvironment, to tumors in the brain.
The enzyme, acetyl-CoA synthetase 2 (ACSS2), helps brain tumors utilize acetate rather than glucose for food. The cellular salt is more available to brain tumors than the glucose, although the latter is preferred. This alternate nutrient source not only keeps the tumors alive but also helps it to grow larger. Depriving tumors of this enzyme would go a long way in stopping cancer growth, even going so far as helping to kill the cancer cells. Right now, all other treatment has been ineffectual and immune systems cannot block these nutrient highways themselves.
According to [Dr. Zhimin Lu, lead researcher in this study and professor of neuro-oncology at the University]: “Inhibition of both ACSS2’s nuclear function and the metabolic pathway, which converts glucose to tumor-feeding energy, appears to be an efficient approach for cancer treatment.”
[Read the full study here (behind paywall)]
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