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This Week in Science: Sep 9, 2016

In this week's Science, a multi-institute research team presents data indicating that the activity of cancer cells is not just influenced by their underlying genetics, but also by their tissue of origin, suggesting that successful treatment will require looking beyond oncogenes to consider tumor metabolism as well. By studying non-small cell lung cancer and pancreatic cancer in mouse models, the researchers found that tumors resulting from the same genetic mutations used nutrients differently. Specifically, the lung cancer cells relied on branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) for nitrogen, while the pancreatic cancer cells instead relied on macropinocytosis to obtain necessary nutrition. Selectively deleting BCAAs caused the lung cancer cells to have difficulty forming tumors, but did not affect the pancreatic cancer cells.

And in Science Translational Medicine, investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital, the Technical University Munich, Stanford University, and Memorial Sloan Kettering discuss the potential for imaging technologies in personalized cancer care. Noting advances in in vivo molecular imaging, imaging-guided tissue sampling, and liquid biopsies, the group argues that imaging can be used to improve patient diagnosis and in the selection of targeted therapies, which, in turn, can reduce healthcare costs. They also touch on the regulatory hurdles faced by imaging-based biomarkers before they can be used widely in drug development and clinical studies.