Starving cancer cells 'could provide new forms of treatment'

30 August 2011

Blocking the system that transports amino acids to certain cancer cells starves the disease and could lead to new cancer treatments, researchers have claimed.

Clinical drug trials on oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancer cells noted how one particular compound blocked the most productive transporter of amino acids which cancer cells use - known as SLC6A14 - according to the paper published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Dr Vadivel Ganapathy of Georgia Health Sciences University said that the compound, known as alpha-methyl-DL-tryptophan, "basically starves the cell" by blocking SLC6A14.

"There are specialised features of this transport system which could be used by every cell to its advantage but they do not seem to do that," he added, claiming that because the transporter was only used by the receptor-positive form of the disease, targeted cancer treatment could more effectively take place.

The research follows similar findings published in the Cancer Biology & Therapy Journal on the effect modifying proteins has on cancer development. Researchers at the University of Kentucky revealed that a protein added to bone marrow could significantly prohibit the development of cancerous cells.

Posted by Philip Briggs

1 Karunakaran, Senthil, et. al., "SLC6A14 (ATB0,+), a highly concentrative and broad-specific amino acid transporter, is a novel and effective drug target for treatment of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer". Journal of Biological Chemistry. Tuesday July 19th 2011.

2 Zhao, Yanming, et. al., "Systemic Par-4 inhibits non-autochthonous tumor growth". Cancer Biology and Therapy. Friday July 15th 2011.

Health News is provided by Adfero in collaboration with Spire Healthcare. Please note that all copy above is ©Adfero Ltd. and does not reflect views or opinions of Spire Healthcare unless explicitly stated. Additional comments on the page from individual Spire consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other consultants or Spire Healthcare.

Find a treatment, test or scan available at:


Find a consultant

Use one or more of the options below to search for a consultant and link through to view their Spire profile.


Let us help you

fill out this form and we will get back to you:

Please select a hospital

We can call you

Please enter your details below and we will call you back.

What is the aim of your enquiry?

Please select a hospital

If we are unable to reach you by phone, please include your email address so that we can get in touch...



© Spire Healthcare Group plc (2016)