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NCI Cancer Center News

How cancer cells rewire their metabolism to survive

  • Posted: February 4, 2013

Cancer cells need food to survive and grow. They’re very good at getting it, too, even when nutrients are scarce. Many scientists have tried killing cancer cells by taking away their favorite food, a sugar called glucose. Unfortunately, this treatment approach not only fails to work, it backfires—glucose-starved tumors actually get more aggressive. In a study published January 31 in the journal Cell, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute researchers discovered that a protein called PKCζ is responsible for this paradox. The research suggests that glucose depletion therapies might work against tumors as long as the cancer cells are producing PKCζ.

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NCI cancer centers logoAmong the research institutions NCI funds across the United States, it currently designates 67 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.