Newly discovered cellular pathway may lead to cancer therapies

Source: EurekAlert, June 2017

Scientists have discovered a new cellular pathway that can promote and support the growth of cancer cells. In a mouse model of melanoma, blocking this pathway resulted in reduction of tumor growth. The study, which appears in Science, offers a novel opportunity to develop drugs that could potentially inhibit this pathway in human cancer cells and help control their growth.

“We had been studying components of this pathway for several years,” said senior author Dr. Andrea Ballabio, professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas, and director of the Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine in Naples, Italy. “We know that the pathway is important for normal cells to carry their activities as it is involved in regulating metabolism, that is, how cells process nutrients to obtain energy and how cells use energy to grow. In this study we wanted to learn more about how the pathway regulates its activity.”

Pathways involved in cellular metabolism typically regulate themselves, meaning that some components of the pathway control each other’s activities. “We suspected that the pathway was autoregulated, and we confirmed it in this study. Our experimental approaches showed that there is a feedback loop within the path that allows it to control itself.”

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