Biochemical Journal paper reports new cancer target

New research published today in the Society’s Biochemical Journal describes the discovery of a new cancer target. The paper, which has been made freely available for a short period, provides  new  insights  into  the  intriguing  interlink  that  exists  between signalling  and  metabolic  pathways  and  how  these  synergize  in  the  development  of cancers.

Science behind the story

PI3K  is  a  name  given  to  a  family  of  enzymes  that  are  involved  in  cell  growth, proliferation, differentiation and many other cellular functions. These enzymes are also implicated in many cancers and PI3K signalling is a target for treatments.

Now,  researchers  at  Bart’s  Cancer  Institute  in  London  have  discovered  a  previously unrecognized  mechanism  by  which  PI3K  sustains  the  proliferation  of  cancer  cells.  It appears that PI3K modulates the concentration of spermidine, a polyamine involved in cellular metabolism.

The researchers explain that there are two biochemical pathways controlling each other’s activities in a kind of feedback loop: that of the enzymes PI3K and ornithine decarboxylase. Restricting the action of both led to a dramatic shrinkage of tumours in xenograft models.

Dr Pedro Cutillas, of the Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London said “I hope this study will inspire new avenues in the exploration of cancer therapies that target metabolic and signalling pathways.”

Further details

Biochemical Journal (2013) 450 619–628
Polyamine production is downstream and upstream of oncogenic PI3K signalling and contributes to tumour cell growth
Vinothini Rajeeve, Wayne Pearce, Marta Cascante, Bart Vanhaesebroeck and Pedro R. Cutillas
(Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, London, U.K.)

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