A collaborative study led by the Francis Crick Institute and elsewhere has unveiled a new understanding of how breast cancer cells use vitamin B5 to grow, offering potential new avenues for treatment.
The Cancer Grand Challenges team Rosetta focused on the role of the Myc gene, known for disrupting normal cellular processes and contributing to tumor growth.
Tumors with high Myc expression become dependent on certain nutrients, which could be targeted to develop new therapies.
However, targeting these metabolic dependencies in human tumors presents challenges due to the variable expression of Myc.
The team created tumors in mice with varying levels of Myc and transplanted human breast cancer tissue into mice, analyzing both with mass spectrometry imaging.
This allowed them to observe the presence of vitamin B5 in areas with high Myc activity in both the mice and human tissue samples, including patient biopsies.
Vitamin B5 and Tumor Growth Connection
They discovered that Myc enhances the cell’s ability to transport vitamin B5 inside, which is then converted into a vital molecule for metabolism. This process supports various pathways leading to energy production and the growth of cancer cells.
Intriguingly, when mice were fed a vitamin B5-deficient diet, tumors grew more slowly. This suggests that vitamin B5 plays a critical role in tumor metabolism and growth.
While the study connects vitamin B5 to tumor growth, simply reducing vitamin B5 intake in cancer patients is not a straightforward solution.
Vitamins are also crucial for the immune system, which fights against tumors. Therefore, researchers are now seeking ways to selectively target tumors without compromising the immune system.
Next Steps and Implications for Treatment
The findings pave the way for developing strategies to identify patients who might benefit from Myc-targeted treatments.
The team is also investigating the effects of removing vitamin B5 within a fully functioning immune system, as the mice in the study had a weakened immune response.
Understanding the metabolic dependencies of tumors is essential for creating effective human cancer therapies.
The complexity of human tumors requires a nuanced approach that takes into account genetic profiles and the interactions between tumors and the body’s cells.
If you care about breast cancer, please read studies about a major cause of deadly breast cancer, and common blood pressure drugs may increase death risk in breast cancer.
For more information about cancer prevention, please see recent studies about nutrient in fish that can be a poison for cancer, and results showing this daily vitamin is critical to cancer prevention.
The research findings can be found in Nature Metabolism.
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