Hopkins researchers find that cancer cells feed on sugar-free diet:
Cancer cells have been long known to have a “sweet tooth,” using vast amounts of glucose for energy and for building blocks for cell replication.
Now, a study by a team of researchers at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere shows that lymph gland cancer cells called B cells can use glutamine in the absence of glucose for cell replication and survival, particularly under low-oxygen conditions, which are common in tumors.
Writing in the Jan. 4, 2012, edition of Cell Metabolism, Anne Le, M.D., and a team of investigators collaborating with the Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute, say the finding is critical for developing innovative cancer therapies because it offers “proof of concept” evidence that curbing the growth of B cell cancers can be accomplished by inhibiting a glutamine enzyme called glutaminase.
Among the research institutions NCI funds across the United States, it currently designates 66 as Cancer Centers. Largely based in research universities, these facilities are home to many of the NCI-supported scientists who conduct a wide range of intense, laboratory research into cancer’s origins and development. The Cancer Centers Program also focuses on trans-disciplinary research, including population science and clinical research. The centers’ research results are often at the forefront of studies in the cancer field.