Learn What Enables Growth Of Cancer Cells

Learn What Enables Growth Of Cancer Cells


Researchers have found that the biggest source of fuel used by cancer cells to thrive is amino acids, which provide proteins and not glucose, as previously assumed. Cancer cells are known for their ability to divide with no control whatsoever and produce myriad of new tumor cells. The new research findings could discover a new method to study cancer cell metabolism, a field of research which scientists believe will help in designing new therapies and drugs to disable the ability of cancer cells to proliferate and divide.

Mathew Vander Heiden, the senior study author and associate professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, said that if you want to effectively disable cancer metabolism, you need to realize something about how different pathways are being used to actually prepare mass.

Human cells generally use glucose, as a source of energy, to break it down in the form of a complex series through chemical reactions, which are dependent upon oxygen.

Since the 1920s, scientists have been aware of the fact that cancer cells produce energy differently than normal cells, a phenomenon which was named after its discoverer German biochemist Otto Warburg as “Warburg effect”.  However, there has not been much research done on exactly what goes into the formation of new cancer growths or any kind of quickly dividing mammalian cells.

In order to examine where cells, along with those in tumors, were able to fetch the building blocks they required, the scientists developed various types of normal cells and cancer cells in culture dishes.

They nurtured the cells with different nutrients labeled with different forms of nitrogen and carbon, enabling them to record where the actual molecules ended up.

The scientists also measured the cells mass before and after they divided, thus enabling them to determine the percentage of cell mass contributed by every available nutrient.

Even though cells feed on the amino acid glutamine and glucose at a greater speed, the scientists discovered that those two molecules contribute very less to the mass of new cells. While glutamine contributes about 10 percent of the carbon, glucose makes for 10 to 15 percent of the carbon present in the cells.

Rather the biggest contributors to cell mass were amino acids that account for proteins. As a group, amino acids without glutamine make for the majority of the atoms of carbon present in new cells and 20 to 40 percent of the total mass.

Although it appeared surprising in the beginning, the study makes sense because cells mostly consist of proteins, according to Vander Heiden.