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Out of Gas


For many years, cancer researchers have been trying to create drugs which target genes that cause tumors to grow. But now, researchers are looking to cut tumors off from their source of nourishment, says the New York Times' Andrew Pollack. Cancer cells consume large amounts of glucose to generate energy, and researchers speculate that if that source of energy is cut off, the accelerators that cause the tumors to grow will shut off. Pharmaceutical companies are starting to take interest, Pollack notes, with research at both small biotechs and large pharma companies picking up steam. AstraZeneca has already partnered with the British charity Cancer Research UK to develop drugs that interfere with cancer metabolism. Researchers are even taking an interest in the connection between cancer and diabetes, with the American Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Association publishing a joint statement earlier this year summarizing how they think the two are interrelated, Pollack says. In fact, people with Type 2 diabetes do have a higher risk of getting certain cancers, and there is some evidence to show that diabetes treatment metformin might be useful in treating cancer. Efforts are underway at many pharmaceutical companies to develop treatments based on disrupting the flow of glucose to a tumor, even treatments that can be used in conjunction with standard chemotherapy, Pollack says. Other companies are working on drugs that inhibit enzymes like pyruvate kinase M2, which are also involved in tumor metabolism. There are clinical trials of several drugs ongoing. The research will take time, Pollack adds, but researchers seem to be optimistic.

The Scan

Study Links Genetic Risk for ADHD With Alzheimer's Disease

A higher polygenic risk score for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is also linked to cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease, a new study in Molecular Psychiatry finds.

Study Offers Insights Into Role of Structural Variants in Cancer

A new study in Nature using cell lines shows that structural variants can enable oncogene activation.

Computer Model Uses Genetics, Health Data to Predict Mental Disorders

A new model in JAMA Psychiatry finds combining genetic and health record data can predict a mental disorder diagnosis before one is made clinically.

Study Tracks Off-Target Gene Edits Linked to Epigenetic Features

Using machine learning, researchers characterize in BMC Genomics the potential off-target effects of 19 computed or experimentally determined epigenetic features during CRISPR-Cas9 editing.