Protein’s Unlocked Potential as a Tumor Suppressant



Dr. Raul Mostoslavsky, of Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, and his international research team have recently singled out a protein that moderates glucose metabolism and can also impede tumor development.

Reported in December 7th’s issue of Cell, Dr. Mostoslavsky describes isolating cells lacking in SIRT6, an enzyme that moderates how the body processes glucose, and observed how these cells became cancerous. Through this observation, the team-uncovered evidence that demonstrated that irregular glycolysis (a normal stage of glucose metabolism) influences the growth of tumor development.

“Our study provides solid evidence that SIRT6 may function as a tumor suppressor by regulating glycolytic metabolism in cancer cells,” says Dr. Mostoslavsky. “Critically, our findings indicate that, in tumors driven by low SIRT6 levels, drugs that may inhibit glycolysis – currently a hot research topic among biotechnology companies – could have therapeutic benefits.”

Back in 2010, Mostoslavsky led a study, which established SIRT6 can act as a key, shifting normal healthy glucose processing to excessive glycolysis observed in cancerous cells. The recent follow up study was initiated to investigate whether or not SIRT6’s manipulation effectively suppresses the development of tumors.

“Our results indicate that, at least in certain cancers, inhibiting glycolytic metabolism could provide a strong alternative way to halt cancer growth, possibly acting synergistically with current anti-tumor therapies,” says Mostoslavsky, an assistant professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Cancer metabolism has only recently emerged as a hallmark of tumorigenesis, and the field is rapidly expanding. With the current pace of research and the speed at which some basic discoveries are moving into translational studies, it is likely that drugs targeting cancer metabolism may be available to patients in the near future.”

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