Scientists from the University of Delaware and University of Illinois at Chicago have found a new way to kill liver cancer cells and inhibit tumor growth. They are frozen basic cellular enzyme, and then a powerful drug. The method was published in Nature Communications.
This research will accelerate the development of new treatments for liver cancer, which is currently difficult to treat. Surgery is not always possible, and the available drugs can not bring the desired effect. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 82% of patients with liver cancer die within five years after diagnosis.
In laboratories researchers cultured liver cancer cells and regulated expression of the enzyme hexokinase-2. Cells were then treated with metformin, a drug that reduces hepatic glucose production.
The research team led by M. Antonevich, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Delaware, has developed a set of tests to measure how cancer cells react to the loss of hexokinase-2.
Antonevich - a specialist in metabolic flux analysis and methods of study of metabolism in biological systems. His research group has studied the metabolic flux of cancerous cells. "The complexity of the mammalian metabolism requires a systematic analysis of networks and phenotypes, and this is something on which we specialize," - he says.
For analysis of cancer cells, researchers used mass spectrometry and then was determined intracellular metabolic fluxes for cells with hexokinase-2 without it. They suspected that cells lacking hexokinase-2, will starve and die, but found that targeting only hexokinase-2 has only little effect on stopping the growth of cancer cells. To complete the work needed other means, metformin.
"The importance of our work lies in the fact that the targeting of hexokinase-2 really can be a successful strategy in cancer therapy," - says Antonevich. Study Group scanned combination of hexokinase-2 and sorafenib, a drug for treatment of liver cancer , liver cancer tumors in mice that showed effectiveness.