In the new study, researchers from the University of Texas in Dallas found that some types of cancer depend on the sugar.
"Cancer cells depend on sugar as an energy source, especially squamous cell carcinoma ", - says Dr. Joong-Wan Kim, senior author of the study published in Nature Communications May 26.
Kim and other officials examined the differences in metabolism between the two main subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer - adenocarcinoma (ADC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC). A quarter of all lung cancers - is squamous cell carcinoma, which is difficult to treat.
The research team used data base of The Cancer Genome Atlas, which displays information on 33 types of cancer, collected in 11 000 patients. Based on these data, they found that the protein responsible for the transport of glucose into cells (a kind of sugar) is present in higher levels in the lung SqCC, than lung ADC. Protein called glucose transporter 1 or GLUT1, transports glucose into cells, where the sugar is the main energy source of cells and promotes metabolism. GLUT1 is necessary for normal cell function, such as the creation of cell membranes.
The results show that GLUT1 may be a potential target for new areas of drug therapy, especially for squamous subtype of cancer. In addition, squamous lung cancer, the researchers found that levels of GLUT1 above other types of squamous cell carcinoma: a head and neck, esophagus and cervix.
In the upcoming study, Kim and other officials will consider the effect of a diet with restriction of sugar on the progression of lung cancer in an animal model of the disease. According to estimates by the US Department of Agriculture, in 2015, on average, each American consumes 75 pounds of refined sugar, syrup, fructose and other sweeteners.
"People depend on sugar, - says Kim. - Excessive consumption of sugar - is not only a problem that leads to complications such as diabetes, but also to certain types of cancers that are dependent on sugar. Prior to this it was thought that the metabolic features of these two types of lung cancer are similar, but we understand that they are different. The results support the idea that the cancer - this is not just one disease but many diseases with different characteristics. GLUT1 is active in the squamous subtype of cancer. In this case, adenocarcinoma is less dependent on sugar. "
The researchers studied the effect of an inhibitor of GLUT1 in isolated lung cancer cells and mice with both types of non-small cell lung cancer. "When we gave GLUT1 inhibitors to mice with lung cancer, squamous cell carcinoma decreased (except adenocarcinoma). tumor growth slowed down ", - explained Kim.