September 19, 2010

Cornell Researchers Find Cancer Inhibitor

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Cornell researchers from Cerione Laboratory in the College of Veterinary Medicine have targeted the link between metabolism and cancerous growth in an attempt to inhibit tumor growth by starving cancer cells. Members of the University team said they hope the research will lead to greater progress in the research for a cure for cancer.The researchers discovered a molecule that is capable of blocking cells from using glutamine, the amino acid that cancerous cells need in order to grow and develop. Researchers took a unique approach by taking a new look at the cell growth regulating signal pathway system.The molecule, called 968 by the researchers, binds to the enzyme glutaminase. 968 is able to block the cancer cell’s use of the nutrient.While the concept of blocking the altered metabolic process of cancerous cells is not novel, the lab team discovered that 968 was able to shrink tumor cell size in mice.      The finding can influence a new generation of drugs that halt cancer progress while not harming healthy cells. While cancerous cells require very high amounts of glutamine, healthy cells have much lower metabolic requirements.According to Cerione researcher Jianbin Wang, the study has been ongoing since 2005. Wang explained that the team has already applied for a patent, which has yet to be approved, but he says is “promising.”The process has proven successful in breast cancer cells, and the lab is now expanding to test 968 on other forms of cancer. Wang said it could be several years before the discovery is put to clinical practice, and that there are still several steps that need to be taken before human testing can begin.While currently in the early stages of the study, the eventual goal is to find a concentrated class of molecules that have similar effects in human cancer cell growth.

Original Author: Tajwar Mazhar