Cancer cells are characterised by uncontrolled division that is the basis of their propagation. They keep on growing and multiplying, thereby making the work of scientists attempting to halt the proliferation harder and harder. Researchers of a new study decided to tackle this problem by focusing on their glucose intake which is used to fuel their growth.
In an attempt to preventing cancer cells from spreading throughout the body, a team of scientists aimed at dealing with their increased glucose uptake that provides the additional energy required to cater for growth and expansion.
This abnormal production of glucose has been linked with the PARP 14 protein in the new study: while the protein is not found in normal cells, it is manufactured in great amounts in most types of human cancer cells.
Past studies have shown that decreasing the PARP 14 levels in cancer cells leads to their death as they are made to starve. Furthermore, the concentration of the protein seems to influence the risk of the patients surviving cancer.
The findings, published in Nature Communications, are expected to pave the way to developing cancer treatments that are non-invasive. The authors suggest that a drug targeting the protein would make the cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy. However, that type of drug has not yet been designed and it would have to be able to block or decrease the level of PARP 14. Moreover, scientists first have to ensure it is safe to be used to humans.
“If we can find a way of stopping this over production of PARP 14 we can cure cancer,” says one of the team, Salvatore Papa from the University of London.