Biochemical Journal paper reports new target for cancer therapy

What if you could turn off a transporter that was important to tumour cells, but not to normal cells? Research published in Society’s Biochemical Journal by Dr Vadivel Ganapathy (Medical College of Georgia, USA) suggests we can do that after tests in breast cancer cells in mice proved promising.

The science behind the story

Tumour cells need far more nutrients that normal cells and these nutrients cannot get into the malignant cells without transporters. These are compounds that are responsible for the absorption of peptides, amino acids, sugars, vitamins and other nutrients. They exist in all cell types, particularly in those tissues responsible for the absorption of nutrients, such as the intestine and kidneys.

A paper published in the Biochemical Journal reports that the plasma membrane transporter SLC5A8 can inhibit the spread of tumours by decreasing the amount of the anti-apoptotic protein surviving in tumour cells. This induces apoptosis (cell death) and renders the tumour cells more sensitive to anti-cancer drugs, without affecting the activity of SLC5A8 in normal cells.

Dr Vadivel Ganapathy said, “Our studies unravel a novel, hitherto unrecognized, mechanism for the tumour-suppressive role of a plasma membrane transporter independent of its transport function.”

To aide in the dissemination of this research, the Biochemical Journal has made this paper freely available for a period of two months.

Free online access to online journal content until 1 February 2013

The Biochemical Society and its wholly owned subsidiary, Portland Press Limited have announced that all of its subscription-based journals have been made entirely free to access online until 1st February 2013 as a New Year’s gift to students and researchers.

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