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Starve the Beast

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A new study published in Science by researchers from the Broad Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital presents a comprehensive view of the metabolism of cancer cells, according to a Broad press release. For decades, researchers have known that cancer cells consume glucose in a different way than normal cells do, and in its new study, the team studied 60 cancer cell lines to see what else cancer cells are consuming and what they're leaving behind by "analyzing which of more than 200 metabolites were consumed or released by the fastest dividing cells," the Broad says. "Their research yields the first large-scale atlas of cancer metabolism and points to a key role for the smallest amino acid, glycine, in cancer cell proliferation."

The researchers developed a new technique called Consumption and Release — or CORE — to measure the levels of metabolites both taken in and discarded by cells. "Using CORE, we can quantitatively determine exactly how much of every metabolite is being consumed or released on a per-cell, per-hour basis," co-first author Mohit Jain says. The technique helped them determine that glycine played a large role in the proliferation of rapidly dividing cancer cells.

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