A research team in the United States has recently identified a pathway in tumour cells that could be exploited in order to destroy the cancer itself. It involves the Kreb's cycle, the most studied metabolic process in all respiring cells and organisms. The simple difference between the normal pathway and the cancerous pathway is that the cancerous one is in the reverse direction. Instead of acetyl acetate being broken down it is actually formed and renewed as the cycle progresses.The products of the cycle are still carbon dioxide and water however they are formed at different stages in the cycle.
They have learned that certain cancers have gene mutations which alter their metabolisms providing new therapeutic windows of opportunity.
Andrew Mullen, a graduate student in genetics and development at UT Southwestern, was first author of the paper. Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in the study were Dr. Eunsook Jin, instructor in the Advanced Imaging Research Center; Pei-Hsuan Chen, graduate student in integrative biology; and Dr. Tzuling Cheng, a postdoctoral researcher in pediatrics. Scientists from Northwestern University and from the National Cancer Institute also participated.