"In a landmark cancer study published online in Nature, researchers at NYU School of Medicine have unraveled a longstanding mystery about how pancreatic tumor cells feed themselves, opening up new therapeutic possibilities for a notoriously lethal disease with few treatment options."
|Scooped by Graham Player Ph.D.|
Breakthrough in Understanding How Pancreatic Cancer Cells Obtain Essential Nutrients
A feature of many cancers, including pancreatic, lung, and colon cancer, is that the cells contain a mutated protein known as Ras that plays a central role in a complex molecular chain of events driving cancer cell growth and proliferation. When Ras is switched on inside the cell, it in turn switches on other proteins that enable cell growth. A mutation of the Ras gene can result in Ras proteins being in a permanently activated and overactive state, resulting in the development of cancerous cells.
For the Ras cancer cells to thrive they need a constant supply of nutrients far greater than normal cells. But it has never been known how the Ras cancer cells satisfy their increased need for nutrients.
Researchers at NYU School of Medicine have now solved the mystery. They discovered that Ras cancer cells use a process called macropinocytosis to do this. Macropinocytosis is a process in which a small compartment of the cell is able to fold itself inwards at the outer membrane and bring external nutrients inside the cell. The nutrient needed, and brought into the cell by the macropinocytosis process, is the protein albumin which is the main nutrient in blood plasma.
This is a significant step forward in understanding the process of how tumors meet their excessive nutrient demands for growth and survival. Greater knowledge of cancer metabolism enables the development of drugs that can block the uptake of albumin via macropinocytosis in cancer cells without damaging healthy cells.
Read more here - http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130513095020.htm