The mystery surrounding how cancerous tumour cells feed themselves has reached a significant breakthrough following a study at NYU School of Medicine.
Eating nuts may prevent developing pancreatic cancer
The research was published online in Nature and the understanding of how the cells ingest nutrients could lead to new treatments on pancreatic cancer.
The study focuses on a mutated protein called Ras that is prevalent in lung and colon cancer as well as pancreatic. The protein is at the centre of a complex molecular process that encourages the growth and spread of the cancer.
Scientists understand that these Ras cells need an extraordinary amount of nutrition to survive but how they maintain such a specific diet has, until now, been a scientific mystery.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal forms of cancer and kills an estimated 8,000 people a year, according to Cancer Research UK.
The study shows for the first how these cells may be sustaining themselves and Dr Cosimo Commisso, one of the lead researchers, believes it is due to a process can macropinocytosis.
The process of Macropinocytosis works by the Ras cells absorbing protein albumin and then procuring amino acids vital for growth. The investigation found that this technique was essential for the Ras cancer cells to thrive.
Dafna Bar-Sagi, one of the lead researchers at the NYU Medical Center, said: “This work offers up a completely different way to target cancer metabolism.
“It's exciting to think that we can cause the demise of some cancer cells simply by blocking this nutrient delivery process."
According to Cancer Research UK, fewer than one in five pancreatic cancer sufferers survive more than a year after being diagnosed and any breakthrough research could prove vital to improving these statistics.
In 2012, a study showed that increasing your dietary intake of vitamins C, E and selenium could reduce the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
If you want to be covered in the event of developing cancer, look for a private health insurance policy with comprehensive cancer cover.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2013