Denying cancer cells of key nutrient 'slows cancer growth'

18 December 2012

Cancer cells that are denied a key amino acid have less chance of growing and multiplying, a new report has stated.

Published in the journal Nature, the study noted that cancer cells usually respond to the absence of the amino acid serine by effectively making it themselves, but if they lack the protein p53, they are not as capable of doing so.

Scientists at Cancer Research UK's Beatson Institute explained that by targeting the ways in which cancer cells create the energy and building blocks needed to spread the disease, they can develop new approaches to defeat cancer.

"We know that the p53 protein blocks the growth of cancer cells, but we are increasingly aware that p53 has a split personality," said Dr Oliver Maddocks, lead researcher based at the Beatson Institute.

"When cells are starved of key nutrients p53 helps them adapt, and could be helping cancer cells survive. Reducing the availability of serine to cancer cells, particularly those lacking p53, is a promising new concept, but we’re still a long way from knowing whether this could work in patients."

Posted by Edward Bartel

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