Cancer Cells Rewire Their Metabolism to Import More Fat

June 17, 2020 | Biotechnology

Reading time: 3-4 minutes

GEN published an interesting article covering Bio Technology:

While most of us wouldn’t want our cells sucking up more fat, cancer cells often need to adjust their metabolic needs to compensate for a deficiency in the production of certain lipid molecules. Now, a team of scientists from the University of Toronto has utilized genome-wide CRISPR screens to investigate global changes in cancerous cells as they adapt to a shortfall of critical nutrients such as lipids, which make up the cell’s outer membrane. When cancer cells are unable to make their own lipids, they gobble them up from their environment to ensure a steady supply of these essential building blocks, the study found. Lipids also serve as fuel and chemical signals for communication between cells, among other roles.

Understanding these underlying metabolic mechanisms could help investigators prevent the likelihood of it becoming resistant to treatment.

“Several clinical trials have failed because metabolism is such an adaptive process by which cancer cells gain drug resistance,” explained co-lead study investigator Michael Aregger, PhD, a research associate at the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research at the University of Toronto. “If you know how cells are able to adapt to perturbations, maybe we can target them more specifically to avoid resistance from developing.”

Findings from the new study published recently in Nature Metabolism through an article titled, “Systematic mapping of genetic interactions for de novo fatty acid synthesis identifies C12orf49 as a regulator of lipid metabolism.”

The switch in metabolism could be bad news for drugmakers seeking to target cancer by reducing its lipid reserves. In particular, drugs that inhibit an enzyme called FASN, for fatty acid synthase, involved in an early step of lipid synthesis, are being explored in patient trials. Fatty acids are precursors of larger lipid molecules, and their production is inc... Find the whole article at the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News (GEN) Blog.

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