Posts Tagged ‘anti-cancer drugs’

Live Conference Coverage @Medcitynews Converge 2018 @Philadelphia: Promising Drugs and Breaking Down Silos

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, PhD

Promising Drugs, Pricing and Access

The drug pricing debate rages on. What are the solutions to continuing to foster research and innovation, while ensuring access and affordability for patients? Can biosimilars and generics be able to expand market access in the U.S.?

Moderator: Bunny Ellerin, Director, Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Management Program, Columbia Business School
Patrick Davish, AVP, Global & US Pricing/Market Access, Merck
Robert Dubois M.D., Chief Science Officer and Executive Vice President, National Pharmaceutical Council
Gary Kurzman, M.D., Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Healthcare, Safeguard Scientifics
Steven Lucio, Associate Vice President, Pharmacy Services, Vizient

What is working and what needs to change in pricing models?

Robert:  He sees so many players in the onStevencology space discovering new drugs and other drugs are going generic (that is what is working).  However are we spending too much on cancer care relative to other diseases (their initiative Going Beyond the Surface)

Steven:  the advent of biosimilars is good for the industry

Patrick:  large effort in oncology, maybe too much (750 trials on Keytruda) and he says pharma is spending on R&D (however clinical trials take large chunk of this money)

Robert: cancer has gotten a free ride but cost per year relative to benefit looks different than other diseases.  Are we overinvesting in cancer or is that a societal decision

Gary:  maybe as we become more specific with precision medicines high prices may be a result of our success in specifically targeting a mutation.  We need to understand the targeted drugs and outcomes.

Patrick: “Cancer is the last big frontier” but he says prices will come down in most cases.  He gives the example of Hep C treatment… the previous only therapeutic option was a very toxic yearlong treatment but the newer drugs may be more cost effective and safer

Steven: Our blockbuster drugs could diffuse the expense but now with precision we can’t diffuse the expense over a large number of patients

President’s Cancer Panel Recommendation

Six recommendations

  1. promoting value based pricing
  2. enabling communications of cost
  3. financial toxicity
  4. stimulate competition biosimilars
  5. value based care
  6. invest in biomedical research

Patrick: the government pricing regime is hurting.  Alot of practical barriers but Merck has over 200 studies on cost basis

Robert:  many concerns/impetus started in Europe on pricing as they are a set price model (EU won’t pay more than x for a drug). US is moving more to outcomes pricing. For every one health outcome study three studies did not show a benefit.  With cancer it is tricky to establish specific health outcomes.  Also Medicare gets best price status so needs to be a safe harbor for payers and biggest constraint is regulatory issues.

Steven: They all want value based pricing but we don’t have that yet and there is a challenge to understand the nuances of new therapies.  Hard to align all the stakeholders together so until some legislation starts to change the reimbursement-clinic-patient-pharma obstacles.  Possibly the big data efforts discussed here may help align each stakeholders goals.

Gary: What is the data necessary to understand what is happening to patients and until we have that information it still will be complicated to determine where investors in health care stand at in this discussion

Robert: on an ICER methods advisory board: 1) great concern of costs how do we determine fair value of drug 2) ICER is only game in town, other orgs only give recommendations 3) ICER evaluates long term value (cost per quality year of life), budget impact (will people go bankrupt)

4) ICER getting traction in the public eye and advocates 5) the problem is ICER not ready for prime time as evidence keeps changing or are they keeping the societal factors in mind and they don’t have total transparancy in their methodology

Steven: We need more transparency into all the costs associated with the drug and therapy and value-based outcome.  Right now price is more of a black box.

Moderator: pointed to a recent study which showed that outpatient costs are going down while hospital based care cost is going rapidly up (cost of site of care) so we need to figure out how to get people into lower cost setting

Breaking Down Silos in Research

“Silo” is healthcare’s four-letter word. How are researchers, life science companies and others sharing information that can benefit patients more quickly? Hear from experts at institutions that are striving to tear down the walls that prevent data from flowing.

Moderator: Vini Jolly, Executive Director, Woodside Capital Partners
Ardy Arianpour, CEO & Co-Founder, Seqster @seqster
Lauren Becnel, Ph.D., Real World Data Lead for Oncology, Pfizer
Rakesh Mathew, Innovation, Research, & Development Lead, HealthShareExchange
David Nace M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Innovaccer

Seqster: Seqster is a secure platform that helps you and your family manage medical records, DNA, fitness, and nutrition data—all in one place. Founder has a genomic sequencing background but realized sequence  information needs to be linked with medical records. :

HealthShare Exchange envisions a trusted community of healthcare stakeholders collaborating to deliver better care to consumers in the greater Philadelphia region. HealthShare Exchange will provide secure access to health information to enable preventive and cost-effective care; improve quality of patient care; and facilitate care transitions. They have partnered with multiple players in healthcare field and have data on over 7 million patients.


Data can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be this way. To drive healthcare efficiency, we designed a modular suite of products for a smooth transition into a data-driven world within 4 weeks. Why does it take so much money to move data around and so slowly?

What is interoperatibility?

Ardy: We knew in genomics field how to build algorithms to analyze big data but how do we expand this from a consumer standpoint and see and share your data.

Lauren: how can we use the data between patients, doctors, researchers?  On the research side genomics represent only 2% of data.  Silos are one issue but figuring out the standards for data (collection, curation, analysis) is not set. Still need to improve semantic interoperability. For example Flatiron had good annotated data on male metastatic breast cancer.

David: Technical interopatabliltiy (platform), semantic interopatability (meaning or word usage), format (syntactic) interopatibility (data structure).  There is technical interoperatiblity between health system but some semantic but formats are all different (pharmacies use different systems and write different prescriptions using different suppliers).  In any value based contract this problem is a big issue now (we are going to pay you based on the quality of your performance then there is big need to coordinate across platforms).  We can solve it by bringing data in real time in one place and use mapping to integrate the format (need quality control) then need to make the data democratized among players.

Rakesh:  Patients data should follow the patient. Of Philadelphia’s 12 health systems we had a challenge to make data interoperatable among them so tdhey said to providers don’t use portals and made sure hospitals were sending standardized data. Health care data is complex.

David: 80% of clinical data is noise. For example most eMedical Records are text. Another problem is defining a patient identifier which US does not believe in.





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LIVE Tweets via @pharma_BI and by @AVIVA1950 of 2016 World Medical Innovation Forum: CANCER, April 25-27, 2016, Westin Hotel, Boston

Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN




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Real Time Coverage and eProceedings of 2016 World Medical Innovation Forum: CANCER, April 25-27, 2016, Westin Hotel,… 


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Have BIG idea for cancer care? @AstellasUS is looking for brilliance! Submit to  #C3Prize VIA @Pharma_BI @AVIVA1950

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Innovation Break: Announcing the C³ Prize from Astellas Oncology and the World Medical Innovation Forum 



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Nature News&Comment ‏@NatureNews  16h16 hours ago

Biden time: The US vice-president’s cancer project is winning hearts and minds 


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Top Three among Disruptive Dozen Technologies: The Future of Cancer Therapies @2016 World Medical Innovation Forum 


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Top Three among Disruptive Dozen Technologies: The Future of Cancer Therapies @2016 World Medical Innovation Forum …


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CRISPR: Genome Editing and Cancer was ranked 7th on the List of Disruptive Dozen Technologies @2016 World Medical In… 


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CRISPR: Genome Editing and Cancer was ranked 7th on the List of Disruptive Dozen Technologies @2016 World Medical… …


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LIVE 11:25 am – 12:25 pm 4/27/2016 Disruptive Dozen Technologies: The Future of Cancer Therapies @2016 World Medical… 


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CEO Giovanni Caforio now live on @CNBC discussing our commitment to develop transformational medicines. #WFIM16


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Decades of immune research now potentially applies to the cancer problem— Glenn Dranoff @NovartisScience #WMIF16


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LIVE 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm 4/26/2016 Fireside Chats: Andy Slavitt, Acting Administrator, CMS &…


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LIVE 10:25 am – 12:00 pm 4/26/2016 Fireside Chat: Robert Bradway, CEO, Amgen & Immunotherapy I: Checkpoint Activatio… 


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LIVE 4:50 pm – 5:55 pm 4/25/2016 Early Detection and Prevention of Cancer & Innovation Break: Announcing the C³ Priz… 


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Innovation Break: Announcing the C³ Prize from Astellas Oncology and the World Medical Innovation Forum 


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Innovation Break: Announcing the C³ Prize from Astellas Oncology and the World Medical Innovation Forum …


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LIVE 4:00 pm – 4:50 pm 4/25/2016 Winning Portfolio Strategy @2016 World Medical Innovation…


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12:00 pm – 1:30 pm 4/25/2016, Discovery Café: Enjoy Lunch with Top Cancer Leadership from across Partners HealthCare… 


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12:00 pm – 1:30 pm 4/25/2016, Discovery Café: Enjoy Lunch with Top Cancer Leadership from…


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LIVE – 8:00 am – 12:00 pm 4/25/2016 – First Look: The Next Wave of Cancer Breakthroughs @2016 World Medical Innovati… 


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LIVE – 8:00 am – 12:00 pm 4/25/2016 – First Look: The Next Wave of Cancer Breakthroughs…


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innovative idea for cancer care? @AstellasUS is looking for brilliance! Submit to  #C3Prize @pharma_BI @AVIVA1950

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CMS releases MACRA rule proposal #WMIF16 @Partners2016 @AVIVA1950 @pharma_BI


World Forum @PartnersWMIF Thanks to @AVIVA1950 @SaudeemFoco for tweeting throughout #WMIF16! Efforts much appreciated.


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Thanks to @lisamjarvis @scchak @jaimy_lee @mo_brouillette @AVIVA1950 @SaudeemFoco for tweeting throughout #WMIF16! Efforts much appreciated.

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#WMIF16 CRISPR: Genome Editing and Cancer 7th on the List of Disruptive Dozen Technologies @2016 … via @Pharma_BI


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MDM2 inhibitor for the treatment of cancers

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Curator



AM 7209



AM 7209



MF 747.700043 g/mol, C37H41Cl2FN2O7S

cas 1623432-51-8



p53 is a tumor suppressor and transcription factor that responds to cellular stress by activating the transcription of numerous genes involved in cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, senescence, and DNA repair. Unlike normal cells, which have infrequent cause for p53 activation, tumor cells are under constant cellular stress from various insults including hypoxia and pro-apoptotic oncogene activation. Thus, there is a strong selective advantage for inactivation of the p53 pathway in tumors, and it has been proposed that eliminating p53 function may be a prerequisite for tumor survival. In support of this notion, three groups of investigators have used mouse models to demonstrate that absence of p53 function is a continuous requirement for the maintenance of established tumors. When the investigators restored p53 function to tumors with inactivated p53, the tumors regressed.

p53 is inactivated by mutation and/or loss in 50% of solid tumors and 10% of liquid tumors. Other key members of the p53 pathway are also genetically or epigenetically altered in cancer. MDM2, an oncoprotein, inhibits p53 function, and it is activated by gene amplification at incidence rates that are reported to be as high as 10%. MDM2, in turn, is inhibited by another tumor suppressor, p14ARF. It has been suggested that alterations downstream of p53 may be responsible for at least partially inactivating the p53 pathway in p53WT tumors (p53 wildtype). In support of this concept, some p53WT tumors appear to exhibit reduced apoptotic capacity, although their capacity to undergo cell cycle arrest remains intact. One cancer treatment strategy involves the use of small molecules that bind MDM2 and neutralize its interaction with p53. MDM2 inhibits p53 activity by three mechanisms: 1) acting as an E3 ubiquitin ligase to promote p53 degradation; 2) binding to and blocking the p53 transcriptional activation domain; and 3) exporting p53 from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. All three of these mechanisms would be blocked by neutralizing the MDM2-p53 interaction. In particular, this therapeutic strategy could be applied to tumors that are p53WT, and studies with small molecule MDM2 inhibitors have yielded promising reductions in tumor growth both in vitro and in vivo. Further, in patients with p53-inactivated tumors, stabilization of wildtype p53 in normal tissues by MDM2 inhibition might allow selective protection of normal tissues from mitotic poisons.

The present invention relates to a compound capable of inhibiting the interaction between p53 and MDM2 and activating p53 downstream effector genes. As such, the compound of the present invention would be useful in the treatment of cancers, bacterial infections, viral infections, ulcers and inflammation. In particular, the compound of the present invention is useful to treat solid tumors such as: breast, colon, lung and prostate tumors; and liquid tumors such as lymphomas and leukemias. As used herein, MDM2 means a human MDM2 protein and p53 means a human p53 protein. It is noted that human MDM2 can also be referred to as HDM2 or hMDM2.






WO 2015070224

Another particular MDM2 inhibitor is AM-7209 (Compound C herein), which is disclosed in U.S. provisional patent application number 61/770,901, filed February 28, 2013. (See Example No. 5 therein and below). AM-7209 has the following chemical name and structure: 4- (2-((3i?,5i?,65)-l-((5)-2-(tei’i-butylsulfonyl)-l-cyclopropylethyl)-6-(4-chloro-3-fluorophenyl)- 5-(3-chlorophenyl)-3-methyl-2-oxopiperidin-3-yl)acetamido)-2-methoxybenzoic acid


Discovery of AM-7209, a Potent and Selective 4-Amidobenzoic Acid Inhibitor of the MDM2–p53 Interaction

J. Med. Chem., 2014, 57 (24), pp 10499–10511
Abstract Image
Structure-based rational design and extensive structure–activity relationship studies led to the discovery of AMG 232 (1), a potent piperidinone inhibitor of the MDM2–p53 association, which is currently being evaluated in human clinical trials for the treatment of cancer. Further modifications of 1, including replacing the carboxylic acid with a 4-amidobenzoic acid, afforded AM-7209(25), featuring improved potency (KD from ITC competition was 38 pM, SJSA-1 EdU IC50 = 1.6 nM), remarkable pharmacokinetic properties, and in vivo antitumor activity in both the SJSA-1 osteosarcoma xenograft model (ED50 = 2.6 mg/kg QD) and the HCT-116 colorectal carcinoma xenograft model (ED50= 10 mg/kg QD). In addition, 25 possesses distinct mechanisms of elimination compared to 1
Yosup Rew, Principal Scientist,

March 2013 – December 2014 (1 year 10 months)San Francisco Bay Area

Medicinal Chemistry (oncology)
1. Led optimization of small molecule inhibitors targeting protein-protein interactions in oncology programs
2. Discovered AM-7209, a back-up clinical candidate of AMG 232 featuring improved potency (KD from ITC competition = 38 pM), by replacing the carboxylic acid with an 4-amidobenzoic acid

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CRISPR/Cas9 Finds Its Way As an Important Tool For Drug Discovery & Development


Curator: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

The RNA-guided Cas9 nuclease from the microbial clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) adaptive immune system can be used to facilitate efficient genome engineering in eukaryotic cells by simply specifying a 20-nt targeting sequence within its guide RNA.

CRISPR/Cas systems are part of the adaptive immune system of bacteria and archaea, protecting them against invading nucleic acids such as viruses by cleaving the foreign DNA in a sequence-dependent manner. Although CRISPR arrays were first identified in the Escherichia coli genome in 1987 (Ishino et al., 1987), their biological function was not understood until 2005, when it was shown that the spacers were homologous to viral and plasmid sequences suggesting a role in adaptive immunity (Bolotin et al., 2005; Mojica et al., 2005; Pourcel et al., 2005). Two years later, CRISPR arrays were confirmed to provide protection against invading viruses when combined with Cas genes (Barrangou et al., 2007). The mechanism of this immune system based on RNA-mediated DNA targeting was demonstrated shortly thereafter (Brouns et al., 2008; Deltcheva et al., 2011; Garneau et al., 2010; Marraffini and Sontheimer, 2008).

Jennifer Doudna, PhD Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology and Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute has recently received numerous awards and accolades for the discovery of CRISPR/Cas9 as a tool for mammalian genetic manipulation as well as her primary intended research target to understand bacterial resistance to viral infection.

A good post on the matter and Dr. Doudna can be seen below:

In Delineating a Role for CRISPR-Cas9 in Pharmaceutical Targeting inheritable metabolic disorders in which may benefit from a CRISPR-Cas9 mediated therapy is discussed. However this curation is meant to focus on CRISPR/CAS9 AS A TOOL IN PRECLINICAL DRUG DEVELOPMENT.

Three Areas of Importance of CRISPR/Cas9 as a TOOL in Preclinical Drug Discovery Include:


  1. Gene-Function Studies: CRISPR/CAS9 ability to DEFINE GENETIC LESION and INSERTION SITE
  2. CRISPR/CAS9 Use in Developing Models of Disease



I.     Gene-Function Studies: CRISPR/CAS9 ability to DEFINE GENETIC LESION and INSERTION SITE


The advent of the first tools for manipulating genetic material (cloning, PCR, transgenic technology, and before microarray and other’omic methods) allowed scientists to probe novel, individual gene functions as well as their variants and mutants in a “one-gene-at-a time” process. In essence, a gene (or mutant gene) was sequenced, cloned into expression vectors and transfected into recipient cells where function was evaluated.

However, some of the experimental issues with this methodology involved


  • Most transfections experiments result in NON ISOGENIC cell lines – by definition the insertion of a transgene alters the genetic makeup of a cell line. Simple transfection experiments with one transgene compared to a “null” transfectant compares non-isogenic lines, possibly confusing the interpretation of gene-function studies. Therefore a common technique is to develop cell lines with inducible gene expression, thereby allowing the investigator to compare a gene’s effect in ISOGENIC cell lines.
  1. Use of CRSPR in Highthrough-put Screening of Genetic Function

A very nice presentation and summary of CRSPR’s use in determining gene function in a high-throughput manner can be found below

  1. Determining Off-target Effects of Gene Therapy Simplified with CRSPR

In GUIDE-seq: First genome-wide method of detecting off-target DNA breaks induced by CRISPR-Cas nucleases (from This Journal’s series on Live Meeting Coverage) at a 2014 Koch lecture

Shengdar Q Tsai and J Keith Joung describe

an approach for global detection of DNA double-stranded breaks (DSBs) introduced by RGNs and potentially other nucleases. This method, called genome-wide, unbiased identification of DSBs enabled by sequencing (GUIDE-seq), relies on capture of double-stranded oligodeoxynucleotides into DSBs. Application of GUIDE-seq to 13 RGNs in two human cell lines revealed wide variability in RGN off-target activities and unappreciated characteristics of off-target sequences. The majority of identified sites were not detected by existing computational methods or chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq). GUIDE-seq also identified RGN-independent genomic breakpoint ‘hotspots’.


II. CRISPR/Cas9 Use in Developing Models of Disease


  1. Developing Animal Tumor Models

In a post this year I discussed a talk at the recent 2015 AACR National Meeting on a laboratories ability to use CRISPR gene editing in-vivo to produce a hepatocarcinoma using viral delivery. The post can be seen here: Notes from Opening Plenary Session – The Genome and Beyond from the 2015 AACR Meeting in Philadelphia PA; Sunday April 19, 2015


1) In this talk Dr. Tyler Jacks discussed his use of CRSPR to generate a mouse model of liver tumor in an immunocompetent mouse. Some notes from this talk are given below

  1. B) Engineering Cancer Genomes: Tyler Jacks, Ph.D.; Director, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research
  • Cancer GEM’s (genetically engineered mouse models of cancer) had moved from transgenics to defined oncogenes
  • Observation that p53 -/- mice develop spontaneous tumors (lymphomas)
  • then GEMs moved to Cre/Lox systems to generate mice with deletions however these tumor models require lots of animals, much time to create, expensive to keep;
  • figured can use CRSPR/Cas9 as rapid, inexpensive way to generate engineered mice and tumor models
  • he used CRSPR/Cas9 vectors targeting PTEN to introduce PTEN mutations in-vivo to hepatocytes; when they also introduced p53 mutations produced hemangiosarcomas; took ONLY THREE months to produce detectable tumors
  • also produced liver tumors by using CRSPR/Cas9 to introduce gain of function mutation in β-catenin


See an article describing this study by MIT News “A New Way To Model Cancer: New gene-editing technique allows scientists to more rapidly study the role of mutations in tumor development.”

The original research article can be found in the August 6, 2014 issue of Nature[1]

And see also on the Jacks Lab site under Research

2)     In the Upcoming Meeting New Frontiers in Gene Editing multiple uses of CRISPR technology is discussed in relation to gene knockout/function studies, tumor model development and



New Frontiers in Gene Editing

Session Spotlight:

Genome Editing Animal Models in Drug Discovery
Myung Shin, Ph.D., Senior Principal Scientist, Biology-Discovery, Genetics and Pharmacogenomics, Merck Research Laboratories

Recent advances in genome editing have greatly accelerated and expanded the ability to generate animal models. These tools allow generating mouse models in condensed timeline compared to that of conventional gene-targeting knock-out/knock-in strategies. Moreover, the genome editing methods have expanded the ability to generate animal models beyond mice. In this talk, we will discuss the application of ZFN and CRISPR to generate various animal models for drug discovery programs.

In vivo Cancer Modeling and Genetic Screening Using CRISPR/Cas9
Sidi Chen, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Laboratories of Dr. Phillip A. Sharp and Dr. Feng Zhang, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT and Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT

Here we describe a genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9-mediated loss-of-function screen in tumor growth and metastasis. We mutagenized a non-metastatic mouse cancer cell line using a genome-scale library. The mutant cell pool rapidly generates metastases when transplanted into immunocompromised mice. Enriched sgRNAs in lung metastases and late stage primary tumors were found to target a small set of genes, suggesting specific loss-of-function mutations drive tumor growth and metastasis.

FEATURED PRESENTATION: In vivo Chromosome Engineering Using CRISPR-Cas9
Andrea Ventura, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Member, Cancer Biology and Genetics Program, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

We will discuss our experience using somatic genome editing to engineer oncogenic chromosomal rearrangements in vivo. More specifically, we will present the results of our ongoing efforts aimed at modeling cancers driven by chromosomal rearrangements using viral mediated delivery of Crispr-Cas9 to adult animals.

RNAi and CRISPR/Cas9-Based in vivo Models for Drug Discovery
Christof Fellmann, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Laboratory of Dr. Jennifer Doudna, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, The University of California, Berkeley

Genetically engineered mouse models (GEMMs) are a powerful tool to study disease initiation, treatment response and relapse. By combining CRISPR/Cas9 and “Sensor” validated, tetracycline-regulated “miR-E” shRNA technology, we have developed a fast and scalable platform to generate RNAi GEMMs with reversible gene silencing capability. The synergy of CRISPR/Cas9 and RNAi enabled us to not only model disease pathogenesis, but also mimic drug therapy in mice, providing us capability to perform preclinical studies in vivo.

In vivo Genome Editing Using Staphylococcus aureus Cas9
Fei Ann Ran, Ph.D., Post-doctoral Fellow, Laboratory of Dr. Feng Zhang, Broad Institute and Junior Fellow, Harvard Society of Fellows

The RNA-guided Cas9 nuclease from the bacterial CRISPR/Cas system has been adapted as a powerful tool for facilitating targeted genome editing in eukaryotes. Recently, we have identified an additional small Cas9 nuclease from Staphylococcus aureus that can be packaged with its guide RNA into a single adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector for in vivo applications. We demonstrate the use of this system for effective gene modification in adult animals and further expand the Cas9 toolbox for in vivo genome editing.

OriGene, Making the Right Tools for CRISPR Research
Xuan Liu, Ph.D., Senior Director, Marketing, OriGene

CRISPR technology has quickly revolutionized the scientific community. Its simplicity has democratized the genome editing technology and enabled every lab to consider its utility in gene function research. As the largest tool box for gene functional research, OriGene created a large collection of CRISPR-related tools, including various all-in-one vectors for gRNA cloning, donor vector backbones, genome-wide knockout kits, AAVS1 insertion vectors, etc. OriGene’s high quality products will accelerate CRISPR research.


  1. Transgenic Animals : Custom Mouse and Rat Model Generation Service Using CRISPR/Cas9 by AppliedStem Cell Inc. (

A critical component of producing transgenic animals is the ability of each successive generations to pass on the transgene. In her post on this site, A NEW ERA OF GENETIC MANIPULATION  Dr. Demet Sag discusses the molecular biology of Cas9 systems and their efficiency to cause point mutations which can be passed on to subsequent generations

This group developed a new technology for editing genes that can be transferable change to the next generation by combining microbial immune defense mechanism, CRISPR/Cas9 that is the latest ground breaking technology for translational genomics with gene therapy-like approach.

  • In short, this so-called “mutagenic chain reaction” (MCR) introduces a recessive mutation defined by CRISPR/Cas9 that lead into a high rate of transferable information to the next generation. They reported that when they crossed the female MCR offspring to wild type flies, the yellow phenotype observed more than 95 percent efficiency.




The advantage of CRISPR/Cas9 over ZFNs or TALENs is its scalability and multiplexibility in that multiple sites within the mammalian genome can be simultaneously modified, providing a robust, high-throughput approach for gene editing in mammalian cells.

Applied StemCell, Inc. offers various services related to animal models including conventional transgenic rats, and phenotype analysis using knock-in, knock-out strategies.

Further explanation of their use of CRSPR can be found at the site below:

In addition, ReproCELL Inc., a Tokyo based stem cell company, uses CRSPR to develop

· Tailored disease model cells (hiPSC-Disease Model Cells)

  • 2 types of services
  • ReproUNUS™-g:human iPS cell derived functional cells involving gene editing by CRISPR/Cas9 system
  • eproUNUS™-p:patient derived iPS cell derived functional cells



As of now it is unclear as to the strategy of pharma in how to use this technology for toxicology testing however a few companies have licensed the technology to use across their R&D platforms including

A recent paper used a sister technique TALEN to generate knock-in pigs which suggest that it would be possible to generate pigs with human transgenes, especially in human liver isozymes in orer to study hepatotoxicity of drugs.


Efficient bi-allelic gene knockout and site-specific knock-in mediated by TALENs in pigs

Jing Yao, Jiaojiao Huang, Tang Hai, Xianlong Wang, Guosong Qin, Hongyong Zhang, Rong Wu, Chunwei Cao, Jianzhong Jeff Xi, Zengqiang Yuan, Jianguo Zhao

Sci Rep. 2014; 4: 6926. Published online 2014 November 5. doi: 10.1038/srep06926


Other related articles on CRISPR/Cas9 were published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal, include the following:

Search Results for ‘CRISPR’

Where is the most promising avenue to success in Pharmaceuticals with CRISPR-Cas9?

CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing tool for Staphylococcus aureus Cas9 complex (SaCas9) @ MIT’s Broad Institute

Delineating a Role for CRISPR-Cas9 in Pharmaceutical Targeting

Using CRISPR to investigate pancreatic cancer

Simple technology makes CRISPR gene editing cheaper

RNAi, CRISPR, and Gene Editing: Discussions on How To’s and Best Practices @14th Annual World Preclinical Congress June 10-12, 2015 | Westin Boston Waterfront | Boston, MA

CRISPR/Cas9: Contributions on Endoribonuclease Structure and Function, Role in Immunity and Applications in Genome Engineering

CRISPR-CAS editing brings cloning of woolly mammoth one step closer to reality

GUIDE-seq: First genome-wide method of detecting off-target DNA breaks induced by CRISPR-Cas nucleases

The Patents for CRISPR, the DNA editing technology as the Biggest Biotech Discovery of the Century

CRISPR: Applications for Autoimmune Diseases @UCSF


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Cancer Biology and Genomics for Disease Diagnosis (Vol. I) Now Available for Amazon Kindle

Cancer Biology and Genomics for Disease Diagnosis (Vol. I) Now Available for Amazon Kindle

Reporter: Stephen J Williams, PhD

Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence would like to announce the First volume of their BioMedical E-Book Series C: e-Books on Cancer & Oncology

Volume One: Cancer Biology and Genomics for Disease Diagnosis

CancerandOncologyseriesCcoverwhich is now available on Amazon Kindle at                

This e-Book is a comprehensive review of recent Original Research on Cancer & Genomics including related opportunities for Targeted Therapy written by Experts, Authors, Writers. This ebook highlights some of the recent trends and discoveries in cancer research and cancer treatment, with particular attention how new technological and informatics advancements have ushered in paradigm shifts in how we think about, diagnose, and treat cancer. The results of Original Research are gaining value added for the e-Reader by the Methodology of Curation. The e-Book’s articles have been published on the Open Access Online Scientific Journal, since April 2012.  All new articles on this subject, will continue to be incorporated, as published with periodical updates.

We invite e-Readers to write an Article Reviews on Amazon for this e-Book on Amazon. All forthcoming BioMed e-Book Titles can be viewed at:

Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence, launched in April 2012 an Open Access Online Scientific Journal is a scientific, medical and business multi expert authoring environment in several domains of  life sciences, pharmaceutical, healthcare & medicine industries. The venture operates as an online scientific intellectual exchange at their website and for curation and reporting on frontiers in biomedical, biological sciences, healthcare economics, pharmacology, pharmaceuticals & medicine. In addition the venture publishes a Medical E-book Series available on Amazon’s Kindle platform.

Analyzing and sharing the vast and rapidly expanding volume of scientific knowledge has never been so crucial to innovation in the medical field. WE are addressing need of overcoming this scientific information overload by:

  • delivering curation and summary interpretations of latest findings and innovations
  • on an open-access, Web 2.0 platform with future goals of providing primarily concept-driven search in the near future
  • providing a social platform for scientists and clinicians to enter into discussion using social media
  • compiling recent discoveries and issues in yearly-updated Medical E-book Series on Amazon’s mobile Kindle platform

This curation offers better organization and visibility to the critical information useful for the next innovations in academic, clinical, and industrial research by providing these hybrid networks.

Table of Contents for Cancer Biology and Genomics for Disease Diagnosis


Introduction  The evolution of cancer therapy and cancer research: How we got here?

Part I. Historical Perspective of Cancer Demographics, Etiology, and Progress in Research

Chapter 1:  The Occurrence of Cancer in World Populations

Chapter 2.  Rapid Scientific Advances Changes Our View on How Cancer Forms

Chapter 3:  A Genetic Basis and Genetic Complexity of Cancer Emerge

Chapter 4: How Epigenetic and Metabolic Factors Affect Tumor Growth

Chapter 5: Advances in Breast and Gastrointestinal Cancer Research Supports Hope for Cure

Part II. Advent of Translational Medicine, “omics”, and Personalized Medicine Ushers in New Paradigms in Cancer Treatment and Advances in Drug Development

Chapter 6:  Treatment Strategies

Chapter 7:  Personalized Medicine and Targeted Therapy

Part III.Translational Medicine, Genomics, and New Technologies Converge to Improve Early Detection

Chapter 8:  Diagnosis                                     

Chapter 9:  Detection

Chapter 10:  Biomarkers

Chapter 11:  Imaging In Cancer

Chapter 12: Nanotechnology Imparts New Advances in Cancer Treatment, Detection, &  Imaging                                 

Epilogue by Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FACP: Envisioning New Insights in Cancer Translational Biology


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Therapeutic Implications for Targeted Therapy from the Resurgence of Warburg ‘Hypothesis’

Writer and Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP 

(Note that each portion of the discussion is followed by a reference)

It is now a time to pause after almost a century of a biological scientific discoveries that have transformed the practice of medicine and impacted the lives of several generations of young minds determined to probe the limits of our knowledge.  In the century that we have entered into the scientific framework of medicine has brought together a difficult to grasp evolution of the emergence of human existence from wars, famine, droughts, storms, infectious diseases, and insect born pestilence with betterment of human lives, only unevenly divided among societal classes that have existed since time immemorial. In this short time span there have emerged several generations of physicians who have benefited from a far better medical education that their forebears could have known. In this expansive volume on cancer, we follow an incomplete and continuing challenge to understand cancer, a disease that has become associated with longer life spans in developed nations.

While there are significant improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers, there is still a personal as well as locality factor in the occurrence of this group of diseases, which has been viewed incorrectly as a “dedifferentiation” of mature tissue types and the emergence of a cell phenotype that is dependent on glucose, reverts to a cancer “stem cell type” (loss of stemness), loses cell to cell adhesion, loses orderly maturation, and metastasizes to distant sites. At the same time, physician and nurses are stressed in the care of patients by balancing their daily lives and maintaining a perspective.

The conceptual challenge of cancer diagnosis and management has seemed insurmountable, but owes much to the post World War I activities of Otto Heinrich Warburg. It was Warburg who made the observation that cancer cells metabolize glucose by fermentation in much the way Pasteur 60 years earlier observed fermentation of yeast cells. This metabolic phenomenon occurs even in the presence of an oxygen supply, which would provide a huge deficit in ATP production compared with respiration. The cancer cell is “addicted to glucose” and produced lactic acid. Warburg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for this work in 1931.

In the last 15 years there has been a resurgence of work on the Warburg effect that sheds much new light on the process that was not previously possible, with significant therapeutic implications.  In the first place, the metabolic mechanism for the Warburg effect was incomplete even at the beginning of the 21st century.  This has been partly rectified with the enlightening elucidation of genome modifications, cellular metabolic regulation, and signaling pathways.

The following developments have become central to furthering our understanding of malignant transformation.

  1. There is usually an identifiable risk factor, such as, H. pylori, or of a chronic inflammatory state, as in the case of Barrett’s esophagus.
  2. There are certain changes in glucose metabolism that have been unquestionably been found in the evolution of this disease. The changes are associated with major changes in metabolic pathways, miRN signaling, and the metabolism geared to synthesis of cells with an impairment of the cell death cycle. In these changes, mitochondrial function is central to both the impaired respiration and the autophagy geared to the synthesis of cancer cells.

The emergence of this cell prototype is characterized by the following, again related to the Warburg effect:

  1. Cancer cells oxidize a decreased fraction of the pyruvate generated from glycolysis
  2. The mitochondrial pyruvate carrier (MPC), composed of the products of the MPC1 and MPC2 genes, modulates fractional pyruvate oxidation. MPC1 is deleted or underexpressed in multiple cancers and correlates with poor prognosis.
  3. Cancer cells tend to express a partially inhibited splice variant of pyruvate kinase (PK-M2), leading to decreased pyruvate production.
  4. The two proteins that mediate pyruvate conversion to lactate and its export, M-type lactate dehydrogenase and the monocarboxylate transporter MCT-4, are commonly upregulated in cancer cells leading to decreased pyruvate oxidation.
  5. The enzymatic step following mitochondrial entry is the conversion of pyruvate to acetyl-CoA by the pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) complex. Cancer cells frequently exhibit increased expression of the PDH kinase PDK1, which phosphorylates and inactivates PDH. This PDH regulatory mechanism is required for oncogene induced transformation and reversed in oncogene-induced senescence.
  6. The PDK inhibitor dichloroacetate has shown some clinical efficacy, which correlates with increased pyruvate oxidation. One of the simplest mechanisms to explain decreased mitochondrial pyruvate oxidation in cancer cells, a loss of mitochondrial pyruvate import, has been observed repeatedly over the past 40 years. This process has been impossible to study at a molecular level until recently, however, as the identities of the protein(s) that mediate mitochondrial pyruvate uptake were unknown.
  7. The mitochondrial pyruvate carrier (MPC) as a multimeric complex that is necessary for efficient mitochondrial pyruvate uptake. The MPC contains two distinct proteins, MPC1 and MPC2; the absence of either leads to a loss of mitochondrial pyruvate uptake and utilization in yeast, flies, and mammalian cells.

A Role for the Mitochondrial Pyruvate Carrier as a Repressor of the Warburg Effect and Colon Cancer Cell Growth

John C. Schell, Kristofor A. Olson, Lei Jiang, Amy J. Hawkins, et al.
Molecular Cell Nov 6, 2014; 56: 400–413.

In addition to the above, the following study has therapeutic importance:

Glycolysis has become a target of anticancer strategies. Glucose deprivation is sufficient to induce growth inhibition and cell death in cancer cells. The increased glucose transport in cancer cells has been attributed primarily to the upregulation of glucose transporter 1 (Glut1),  1 of the more than 10 glucose transporters that are responsible for basal glucose transport in almost all cell types. Glut1 has not been targeted until very recently due to the lack of potent and selective inhibitors.

First, Glut1 antibodies were shown to inhibit cancer cell growth. Other Glut1 inhibitors and glucose transport inhibitors, such as fasentin and phloretin, were also shown to be effective in reducing cancer cell growth. A group of inhibitors of glucose transporters has been recently identified with IC50 values lower than 20mmol/L for inhibiting cancer cell growth. However, no animal or detailed mechanism studies have been reported with these inhibitors.

Recently, a small molecule named STF-31 was identified that selectively targets the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) deficient kidney cancer cells. STF-31 inhibits VHL deficient cancer cells by inhibiting Glut1. It was further shown that daily intraperitoneal injection of a soluble analogue of STF-31 effectively reduced the growth of tumors of VHL-deficient cancer cells grafted on nude mice. On the other hand, STF-31 appears to be an inhibitor with a narrow cell target spectrum.

These investigators recently reported the identification of a group of novel small compounds that inhibit basal glucose transport and reduce cancer cell growth by a glucose deprivation–like mechanism. These compounds target Glut1 and are efficacious in vivo as anticancer agents. A novel representative compound WZB117 not only inhibited cell growth in cancer cell lines but also inhibited cancer growth in a nude mouse model. Daily intraperitoneal injection of WZB117 resulted in a more than 70% reduction in the size of human lung cancer of A549 cell origin. Mechanism studies showed that WZB117 inhibited glucose transport in human red blood cells (RBC), which express Glut1 as their sole glucose transporter. Cancer cell treatment with WZB117 led to decreases in levels of Glut1 protein, intracellular ATP, and glycolytic enzymes. All these changes were followed by increase in ATP sensing enzyme AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and declines in cyclin E2 as well as phosphorylated retinoblastoma, resulting in cell-cycle arrest, senescence, and necrosis. Addition of extracellular ATP rescued compound-treated cancer cells, suggesting that the reduction of intracellular ATP plays an important role in the anticancer mechanism of the molecule.

A Small-Molecule Inhibitor of Glucose Transporter 1 Downregulates Glycolysis, Induces Cell-Cycle Arrest, and Inhibits Cancer Cell Growth In Vitro and In Vivo

Yi Liu, Yanyan Cao, Weihe Zhang, Stephen Bergmeier, et al.
Mol Cancer Ther Aug 2012; 11(8): 1672–82

Alterations in cellular metabolism are among the most consistent hallmarks of cancer. These investigators have studied the relationship between increased aerobic lactate production and mitochondrial physiology in tumor cells. To diminish the ability of malignant cells to metabolize pyruvate to lactate, M-type lactate dehydrogenase levels were knocked down by means of LDH-A short hairpin RNAs. Reduction in LDH-A activity resulted in stimulation of mitochondrial respiration and decrease of mitochondrial membrane potential. It also compromised the ability of these tumor cells to proliferate under hypoxia. The tumorigenicity of the LDH-A-deficient cells was severely diminished, and this phenotype was reversed by complementation with the human ortholog LDH-A protein. These results demonstrate that LDH-A plays a key role in tumor maintenance.

The results are consistent with a functional connection between alterations in glucose metabolism and mitochondrial physiology in cancer. The data also reflect that the dependency of tumor cells on glucose metabolism is a liability for these cells under limited-oxygen conditions. Interfering with LDH-A activity as a means of blocking pyruvate to lactate conversion could be exploited therapeutically. Because individuals with complete deficiency of LDH-A do not show any symptoms under ordinary circumstances, the genetic data suggest that inhibition of LDH-A activity may represent a relatively nontoxic approach to interfere with tumor growth.

Attenuation of LDH-A expression uncovers a link between glycolysis, mitochondrial physiology, and tumor maintenance

Valeria R. Fantin Julie St-Pierre and Philip Leder
Cancer Cell Jun 2006; 9: 425–434.

The widespread clinical use of positron-emission tomography (PET) for the detection of aerobic glycolysis in tumors and recent findings have rekindled interest in Warburg’s theory. Studies on the physiological changes in malignant conversion provided a metabolic signature for the different stages of tumorigenesis; during tumorigenesis, an increase in glucose uptake and lactate production have been detected. The fully transformed state is most dependent on aerobic glycolysis and least dependent on the mitochondrial machinery for ATP synthesis.

Tumors ferment glucose to lactate even in the presence of oxygen (aerobic glycolysis; Warburg effect). The pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) allows glucose conversion to ribose for nucleic acid synthesis and glucose degradation to lactate. The nonoxidative part of the PPP is controlled by transketolase enzyme reactions. We have detected upregulation of a mutated transketolase transcript (TKTL1) in human malignancies, whereas transketolase (TKT) and transketolase-like-2 (TKTL2) transcripts were not upregulated. Strong TKTL1 protein expression was correlated to invasive colon and urothelial tumors and to poor patients outcome. TKTL1 encodes a transketolase with unusual enzymatic properties, which are likely to be caused by the internal deletion of conserved residues. We propose that TKTL1 upregulation in tumors leads to enhanced, oxygen-independent glucose usage and a lactate based matrix degradation. As inhibition of transketolase enzyme reactions suppresses tumor growth and metastasis, TKTL1 could be the relevant target for novel anti-transketolase cancer therapies. We suggest an individualized cancer therapy based on the determination of metabolic changes in tumors that might enable the targeted inhibition of invasion and metastasis.

Other important links between cancer-causing genes and glucose metabolism have been already identified. Activation of the oncogenic kinase Akt has been shown to stimulate glucose uptake and metabolism in cancer cells and renders these cells susceptible to death in response to glucose withdrawal. Such tumor cells have been shown to be dependent on glucose because the ability to induce fatty acid oxidation in response to glucose deprivation is impaired by activated Akt. In addition, AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) has been identified as a link between glucose metabolism and the cell cycle, thereby implicating p53 as an essential component of metabolic cell-cycle control.

Expression of transketolase TKTL1 predicts colon and urothelial cancer patient survival: Warburg effect reinterpreted

S Langbein, M Zerilli, A zur Hausen, W Staiger, et al.
British Journal of Cancer (2006) 94, 578–585.

The unique metabolic profile of cancer (aerobic glycolysis) might confer apoptosis resistance and be therapeutically targeted. Compared to normal cells, several human cancers have high mitochondrial membrane potential (DJm) and low expression of the K+ channel Kv1.5, both contributing toapoptosis resistance. Dichloroacetate (DCA) inhibits mitochondrial pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK), shifts metabolism from glycolysis to glucose oxidation, decreases DJm, increases mitochondrial H2O2, and activates Kv channels in all cancer, but not normal, cells; DCA upregulates Kv1.5 by an NFAT1-dependent mechanism. DCA induces apoptosis, decreases proliferation, and inhibits tumor growth, without apparent toxicity. Molecular inhibition of PDK2 by siRNA mimics DCA. The mitochondria-NFAT-Kv axis and PDK are important therapeutic targets in cancer; the orally available DCA is a promising selective anticancer agent.

Cancer progression and its resistance to treatment depend, at least in part, on suppression of apoptosis. Although mitochondria are recognized as regulators of apoptosis, their importance as targets for cancer therapy has not been adequately explored or clinically exploited. In 1930, Warburg suggested that mitochondrial dysfunction in cancer results in a characteristic metabolic phenotype, that is, aerobic glycolysis (Warburg, 1930). Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging has now confirmed that most malignant tumors have increased glucose uptake and metabolism. This bioenergetic feature is a good marker of cancer but has not been therapeutically pursued..

The small molecule DCA is a metabolic modulator that has been used in humans for decades in the treatment of lactic acidosis and inherited mitochondrial diseases. Without affecting normal cells, DCA reverses the metabolic electrical remodeling that we describe in several cancer lines (hyperpolarized mitochondria, activated NFAT1, downregulated Kv1.5), inducing apoptosis and decreasing tumor growth. DCA in the drinking water at clinically relevant doses for up to 3 months prevents and reverses tumor growth in vivo, without apparent toxicity and without affecting hemoglobin, transaminases, or creatinine levels. The ease of delivery, selectivity, and effectiveness  make DCA an attractive candidate for proapoptotic cancer therapy which can be rapidly translated into phase II–III clinical trials.

A Mitochondria-K+ Channel Axis Is Suppressed in Cancer and Its Normalization Promotes Apoptosis and Inhibits Cancer Growth

Sebastien Bonnet, Stephen L. Archer, Joan Allalunis-Turner, et al.

Cancer Cell Jan 2007; 11: 37–51.

Tumor cells, just as other living cells, possess the potential for proliferation, differentiation, cell cycle arrest, and apoptosis. There is a specific metabolic phenotype associated with each of these conditions, characterized by the production of both energy and special substrates necessary for the cells to function in that particular state. Unlike that of normal living cells, the metabolic phenotype of tumor cells supports the proliferative state. Aim: To present the metabolic hypothesis that (1) cell transformation and tumor growth are associated with the activation of metabolic enzymes that increase glucose carbon utilization for nucleic acid synthesis, while enzymes of the lipid and amino acid synthesis pathways are activated in tumor growth inhibition, and (2) phosphorylation and allosteric and transcriptional regulation of intermediary metabolic enzymes and their substrate availability together mediate and sustain cell transformation from one condition to another. Conclusion: Evidence is presented that demonstrates opposite changes in metabolic phenotypes induced by TGF-β, a cell transforming agent, and tumor growth-inhibiting phytochemicals such as genistein and Avemar, or novel synthetic antileukemic drugs such as STI571 (Gleevec).  Intermediary metabolic enzymes that mediate the growth signaling pathways and promote malignant cell transformation may serve as high efficacy nongenetic novel targets for cancer therapies.

A Metabolic Hypothesis of Cell Growth and Death in Pancreatic Cancer

Laszlo G. Boros, Wai-Nang Paul Lee, and Vay Liang W. Go
Pancreas 2002; 24(1):26–33

Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) is the most common pathological subtype of kidney cancer. Here, we integrated an unbiased genome-wide RNA interference screen for ccRCC survival regulators with an analysis of recurrently overexpressed genes in ccRCC to identify new therapeutic targets in this disease. One of the most potent survival regulators, the monocarboxylate transporter MCT4 (SLC16A3), impaired ccRCC viability in all eight ccRCC lines tested and was the seventh most overexpressed gene in a meta-analysis of five ccRCC expression datasets.

MCT4 silencing impaired secretion of lactate generated through glycolysis and induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Silencing MCT4 resulted in intracellular acidosis, and reduction in intracellular ATP production together with partial reversion of the Warburg effect in ccRCC cell lines. Intra-tumoral heterogeneity in the intensity of MCT4 protein expression was observed in primary ccRCCs.

MCT4 protein expression analysis based on the highest intensity of expression in primary ccRCCs was associated with poorer relapse-free survival, whereas modal intensity correlated with Fuhrman nuclear grade. Consistent with the potential selection of subclones enriched for MCT4 expression during disease progression, MCT4 expression was greater at sites of metastatic disease. These data suggest that MCT4 may serve as a novel metabolic target to reverse the Warburg effect and limit disease progression in ccRCC.

Clear cell carcinoma (ccRCC) is the commonest subtype of renal cell carcinoma, accounting for 80% of cases. These tumors are highly resistant to cytotoxic chemotherapy and until recently, systemic treatment options for advanced ccRCC were limited to cytokine based therapies, such as interleukin-2 and interferon-α. Recently, anti-angiogenic drugs and mTOR inhibitors, all targeting the HIF–VEGF axis which is activated in up to 91% of ccRCCs through loss of the VHL tumor suppressor gene [1], have been shown to be effective in metastatic ccRCC [2–5]. Although these drugs increase overall survival to more than 2 years [6], resistance invariably occurs, making the identification of new molecular targets a major clinical need to improve outcomes in patients with metastatic ccRCC.

Genome-wide RNA interference analysis of renal carcinoma survival regulators identifies MCT4 as a Warburg effect metabolic target

Marco Gerlinger, Claudio R Santos, Bradley Spencer-Dene, et al.
J Pathol 2012; 227: 146–156

Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) plays a key role in the reprogramming of cancer metabolism by activating transcription of genes encoding glucose transporters and glycolytic enzymes, which take up glucose and convert it to lactate; pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 1, which shunts pyruvate away from the mitochondria; and BNIP3, which triggers selective mitochondrial autophagy. The shift from oxidative to glycolytic metabolism allows maintenance of redox homeostasis and cell survival under conditions of prolonged hypoxia. Many metabolic abnormalities in cancer cells increase HIF-1 activity. As a result, a feed-forward mechanism can be activated that drives HIF-1 activation and may promote tumor progression.

Metastatic cancer is characterized by reprogramming of cellular metabolism leading to increased uptake of glucose for use as both an anabolic and a catabolic substrate. Increased glucose uptake is such a reliable feature that it is utilized clinically to detect metastases by positron emission tomography using 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG-PET) with a sensitivity of >90% [1]. As with all aspects of cancer biology, the details of metabolic reprogramming differ widely among individual tumors. However, the role of specific signaling pathways and transcription factors in this process is now understood in considerable detail. This review will focus on the involvement of hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) in both mediating metabolic reprogramming and responding to metabolic alterations. The placement of HIF-1 both upstream and downstream of cancer metabolism results in a feed-forward mechanism that may play a major role in the development of the invasive, metastatic, and lethal cancer phenotype.

O2 concentrations are significantly reduced in many human cancers compared with the surrounding normal tissue. The median PO2 in breast cancers is 10 mmHg, as compared with65 mmHg in normal breast tissue. Reduced O2 availability induces HIF-1, which regulates the transcription of hundreds of genes that encode proteins involved in every aspect of cancer biology, including: cell immortalization and stem cell maintenance; genetic instability; glucose and energy metabolism; vascularization; autocrine growth factor signaling; invasion and metastasis; immune evasion; and resistance to chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

HIF-1 is a transcription factor that consists of an O2 regulated HIF-1a and a constitutively expressed HIF-1b subunit. In well-oxygenated cells, HIF-1a is hydroxylated on proline residue 402 (Pro-402) and/or Pro-564 by prolyl hydroxylase domain protein 2 (PHD2), which uses O2 and a-ketoglutarate as substrates in a reaction that generates CO2 and succinate as byproducts. Prolylhydroxylated HIF-1a is bound by the von Hippel–Lindau tumor suppressor protein (VHL), which recruits an E3-ubiquitin ligase that targets HIF-1a for proteasomal degradation (Figure 1a). Asparagine 803 in the transactivation domain is hydroxylated in well-oxygenated cells by factor inhibiting HIF-1 (FIH-1), which blocks the binding of the coactivators p300 and CBP. Under hypoxic conditions, the prolyl and asparaginyl hydroxylation reactions are inhibited by substrate (O2) deprivation and/or the mitochondrial generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which may oxidize Fe(II) present in the catalytic center of the hydroxylases.

The finding that acute changes in PO2 increase mitochondrial ROS production suggests that cellular respiration is optimized at physiological PO2 to limit ROS generation and that any deviation in PO2 – up or down – results in increased ROS generation. If hypoxia persists, induction of HIF-1 leads to adaptive mechanisms to reduce ROS and re-establish homeostasis, as described below. Prolyl and asparaginyl hydroxylation provide a molecular mechanism by which changes in cellular oxygenation can be transduced to the nucleus as changes in HIF-1 activity.

HIF-1: upstream and downstream of cancer metabolism

Gregg L Semenza
Current Opinion in Genetics & Development 2010, 20:51–56

This review comes from a themed issue on Genetic and cellular mechanisms of oncogenesis Edited by Tony Hunter and Richard Marais

Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) regulates the transcription of many genes involved in key aspects of cancer biology, including immortalization, maintenance of stem cell pools, cellular dedifferentiation, genetic instability, vascularization, metabolic reprogramming, autocrine growth factor signaling, invasion/metastasis, and treatment failure. In animal models, HIF-1 overexpression is associated with increased tumor growth, vascularization, and metastasis, whereas HIF-1 loss-of-function has the opposite effect, thus validating HIF-1 as a target. In further support of this conclusion, immunohistochemical detection of HIF-1a overexpression in biopsy sections is a prognostic factor in many cancers. A growing number of novel anticancer agents have been shown to inhibit HIF-1 through a  variety of molecular mechanisms. Determining which combination of drugs to administer to any given patient remains a major obstacle to improving cancer treatment outcomes.

Intratumoral hypoxia The majority of locally advanced solid tumors contain regions of reduced oxygen availability. Intratumoral hypoxia results when cells are located too far from a functional blood vessel for diffusion of adequate amounts of O2 as a result of rapid cancer cell proliferation and the formation of blood vessels that are structurally and functionally abnormal. In the most extreme case, O2 concentrations are below those required for survival, resulting in cell death and establishing a selection for cancer cells in which apoptotic pathways are inactivated, anti-apoptotic pathways are activated, or invasion/metastasis pathways that promote escape from the hypoxic microenvironment are activated. This hypoxic adaptation may arise by alterations in gene expression or by mutations in the genome or both and is associated with reduced patient survival.

Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) The expression of hundreds of genes is altered in each cell exposed to hypoxia. Many of these genes are regulated by HIF-1. HIF-1 is a heterodimer formed by the association of an O2-regulated HIF1a subunit with a constitutively expressed HIF-1b subunit. The structurally and functionally related HIF-2a protein also dimerizes with HIF-1b and regulates an overlapping battery of target genes. Under nonhypoxic conditions, HIF-1a (as well as HIF-2a) is subject to O2-dependent prolyl hydroxylation and this modification is required for binding of the von Hippel–Lindau tumor suppressor protein (VHL), which also binds to Elongin C and thereby recruits a ubiquitin ligase complex that targets HIF-1a for ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation. Under hypoxic conditions, the rate of hydroxylation and ubiquitination declines, resulting in accumulation of HIF-1a. Immunohistochemical analysis of tumor biopsies has revealed high levels of HIF-1a in hypoxic but viable tumor cells surrounding areas of necrosis.

Genetic alterations in cancer cells increase HIF-1 activity In the majority of clear-cell renal carcinomas, VHL function is lost, resulting in constitutive activation of HIF-1. After re-introduction of functional VHL, renal carcinoma cell lines are no longer tumorigenic, but can be made tumorigenic by expression of HIF2a in which the prolyl residues that are subject to hydroxylation have been mutated. In addition to VHL loss-of-function, many other genetic alterations that inactivate tumor suppressors

Evaluation of HIF-1 inhibitors as anticancer agents

Gregg L. Semenza
Drug Discovery Today Oct 2007; 12(19/20).

Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1), which is present at high levels in human tumors, plays crucial roles in tumor promotion by upregulating its target genes, which are involved in anaerobic energy metabolism, angiogenesis, cell survival, cell invasion, and drug resistance. Therefore, it is apparent that the inhibition of HIF-1 activity may be a strategy for treating cancer. Recently, many efforts to develop new HIF-1-targeting agents have been made by both academic and pharmaceutical industry laboratories. The future success of these efforts will be a new class of HIF-1-targeting anticancer agents, which would improve the prognoses of many cancer patients. This review focuses on the potential of HIF-1 as a target molecule for anticancer therapy, and on possible strategies to inhibit HIF-1 activity. In addition, we introduce YC-1 as a new anti-HIF-1, anticancer agent. Although YC-1 was originally developed as a potential therapeutic agent for thrombosis and hypertension, recent studies demonstrated that YC-1 suppressed HIF-1 activity and vascular endothelial growth factor expression in cancer cells. Moreover, it halted tumor growth in immunodeficient mice without serious toxicity during the treatment period. Thus, we propose that YC-1 is a good lead compound for the development of new anti-HIF-1, anticancer agents.

Although many anticancer regimens have been introduced to date, their survival benefits are negligible, which is the reason that a more innovative treatment is required. Basically, the identification of the specific molecular features of tumor promotion has allowed for rational drug discovery in cancer treatment, and drugs have been screened based upon the modulation of specific molecular targets in tumor cells. Target-based drugs should satisfy the following two conditions.

First, they must act by a described mechanism.

Second, they must reduce tumor growth in vivo, associated with this mechanism.

Many key factors have been found to be involved in the multiple steps of cell growth signal-transduction pathways. Targeting these factors offers a strategy for preventing tumor growth; for example, competitors or antibodies blocking ligand–receptor interaction, and receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors, downstream pathway inhibitors (i.e., RAS farnesyl transferase inhibitors, mitogen-activated protein kinase and mTOR inhibitors), and cell-cycle arresters (i.e., cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors) could all be used to inhibit tumor growth.

In addition to the intracellular events, tumor environmental factors should be considered to treat solid tumors. Of these, hypoxia is an important cancer-aggravating factor because it contributes to the progression of a more malignant phenotype, and to the acquisition of resistance to radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Thus, transcription factors that regulate these hypoxic events are good targets for anticancer therapy and in particular HIF-1 is one of most compelling targets. In this paper, we introduce the roles of HIF-1 in tumor promotion and provide a summary of new anticancer strategies designed to inhibit HIF-1 activity.

New anticancer strategies targeting HIF-1

Eun-Jin Yeo, Yang-Sook Chun, Jong-Wan Park
Biochemical Pharmacology 68 (2004) 1061–1069

Classical work in tumor cell metabolism focused on bioenergetics, particularly enhanced glycolysis and suppressed oxidative phosphorylation (the ‘Warburg effect’). But the biosynthetic activities required to create daughter cells are equally important for tumor growth, and recent studies are now bringing these pathways into focus. In this review, we discuss how tumor cells achieve high rates of nucleotide and fatty acid synthesis, how oncogenes and tumor suppressors influence these activities, and how glutamine metabolism enables macromolecular synthesis in proliferating cells.

Otto Warburg’s demonstration that tumor cells rapidly use glucose and convert the majority of it to lactate is still the most fundamental and enduring observation in tumor metabolism. His work, which ushered in an era of study on tumor metabolism focused on the relationship between glycolysis and cellular bioenergetics, has been revisited and expanded by generations of tumor biologists. It is now accepted that a high rate of glucose metabolism, exploited clinically by 18FDGPET scanning, is a metabolic hallmark of rapidly dividing cells, correlates closely with transformation, and accounts for a significant percentage of ATP generated during cell proliferation. A ‘metabolic transformation’ is required for tumorigenesis. Research over the past few years has reinforced this idea, revealing the conservation of metabolic activities among diverse tumor types, and proving that oncogenic mutations can promote metabolic autonomy by driving nutrient uptake to levels that often exceed those required for cell growth and proliferation.

In order to engage in replicative division, a cell must duplicate its genome, proteins, and lipids and assemble the components into daughter cells; in short, it must become a factory for macromolecular biosynthesis. These activities require that cells take up extracellular nutrients like glucose and glutamine and allocate them into metabolic pathways that convert them into biosynthetic precursors (Figure 1). Tumor cells can achieve this phenotype through changes in the expression of enzymes that determine metabolic flux rates, including nutrient transporters and enzymes [8– 10]. Current studies in tumor metabolism are revealing novel mechanisms for metabolic control, establishing which enzyme isoforms facilitate the tumor metabolic phenotype, and suggesting new targets for cancer therapy.

The ongoing challenge in tumor cell metabolism is to understand how individual pathways fit together into the global metabolic phenotype of cell growth. Here we discuss two biosynthetic activities required by proliferating tumor cells: production of ribose-5 phosphate for nucleotide biosynthesis and production of fatty acids for lipid biosynthesis. Nucleotide and lipid biosynthesis share three important characteristics.

  • First, both use glucose as a carbon source.
  • Second, both consume TCA cycle intermediates, imposing the need for a mechanism to replenish the cycle.
  • Third, both require reductive power in the form of NADPH.

In this Essay, we discuss the possible drivers, advantages, and potential liabilities of the altered metabolism of cancer cells (Figure 1, not shown). Although our emphasis on the Warburg effect reflects the focus of the field, we would also like to encourage a broader approach to the study of cancer metabolism that takes into account the contributions of all interconnected small molecule pathways of the cell.

The Tumor Microenvironment Selects for Altered Metabolism One compelling idea to explain the Warburg effect is that the altered metabolism of cancer cells confers a selective advantage for survival and proliferation in the unique tumor microenvironment. As the early tumor expands, it outgrows the diffusion limits of its local blood supply, leading to hypoxia and stabilization of the hypoxia-inducible transcription factor, HIF. HIF initiates a transcriptional program that provides multiple solutions to hypoxic stress (reviewed in Kaelin and Ratcliffe, 2008). Because a decreased dependence on aerobic respiration becomes advantageous, cell metabolism is shifted toward glycolysis by the increased expression of glycolytic enzymes, glucose transporters, and inhibitors of mitochondrial metabolism. In addition, HIF stimulates angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels) by upregulating several factors, including most prominently vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).

Blood vessels recruited to the tumor microenvironment, however, are disorganized, may not deliver blood effectively, and therefore do not completely alleviate hypoxia (reviewed in Gatenby and Gillies, 2004). The oxygen levels within a tumor vary both spatially and temporally, and the resulting rounds of fluctuating oxygen levels potentially select for tumors that constitutively upregulate glycolysis. Interestingly, with the possible exception of tumors that have lost the von Hippel-Lindau protein (VHL), which normally mediates degradation of HIF, HIF is still coupled to oxygen levels, as evident from the heterogeneity of HIF expression within the tumor microenvironment. Therefore, the Warburg effect—that is, an uncoupling of glycolysis from oxygen levels—cannot be explained solely by upregulation of HIF. Other molecular mechanisms are likely to be important, such as the metabolic changes induced by oncogene activation and tumor suppressor loss.

Oncogene Activation Drives Changes in Metabolism Not only may the tumor microenvironment select for a deranged metabolism, but oncogene status can also drive metabolic changes. Since Warburg’s time, the biochemical study of cancer metabolism has been overshadowed by efforts to identify the mutations that contribute to cancer initiation and progression. Recent work, however, has demonstrated that the key components of the Warburg effect—

  • increased glucose consumption,
  • decreased oxidative phosphorylation, and
  • accompanying lactate production—
  • are also distinguishing features of oncogene activation.

The signaling molecule Ras, a powerful oncogene when mutated, promotes glycolysis (reviewed in Dang and Semenza, 1999; Ramanathan et al., 2005). Akt kinase, a well-characterized downstream effector of insulin signaling, reprises its role in glucose uptake and utilization in the cancer setting (reviewed in Manning and Cantley, 2007), whereas the Myc transcription factor upregulates the expression of various metabolic genes (reviewed in Gordan et al., 2007). The most parsimonious route to tumorigenesis may be activation of key oncogenic nodes that execute a proliferative program, of which metabolism may be one important arm. Moreover, regulation of metabolism is not exclusive to oncogenes.

Cancer Cell Metabolism: Warburg & Beyond

Hsu PP & Sabatini DM
Cell  Sep 5, 2008; 134, 703-705

Tumor cells respond to growth signals by the activation of protein kinases, altered gene expression and significant modifications in substrate flow and redistribution among biosynthetic pathways. This results in a proliferating phenotype with altered cellular function. These transformed cells exhibit unique anabolic characteristics, which includes increased and preferential utilization of glucose through the non-oxidative steps of the pentose cycle for nucleic acid synthesis but limited de novo fatty  acid   synthesis   and   TCA   cycle   glucose   oxidation. This  primarily nonoxidative anabolic profile reflects an undifferentiated highly proliferative aneuploid cell phenotype and serves as a reliable metabolic biomarker to determine cell proliferation rate and the level of cell transformation/differentiation in response to drug treatment.

Novel drugs effective in particular cancers exert their anti-proliferative effects by inducing significant reversions of a few specific non-oxidative anabolic pathways. Here we present evidence that cell transformation of various mechanisms is sustained by a unique disproportional substrate distribution between the two branches of the pentose cycle for nucleic acid synthesis, glycolysis and the TCA cycle for fatty acid synthesis and glucose oxidation. This can be demonstrated by the broad labeling and unique specificity of [1,2-13C2]glucose to trace a large number of metabolites in the metabolome. Stable isotope-based dynamic metabolic profiles (SIDMAP) serve the drug discovery process by providing a powerful new tool that integrates the metabolome into a functional genomics approach to developing new drugs. It can be used in screening kinases and their metabolic targets, which can therefore be more efficiently characterized, speeding up and improving drug testing, approval and labeling processes by saving trial and error type study costs in drug testing.

Metabolic Biomarker and Kinase Drug Target Discovery in Cancer Using Stable Isotope-Based Dynamic Metabolic Profiling (SIDMAP)

László G. Boros, Daniel J. Brackett and George G. Harrigan
Current Cancer Drug Targets, 2003, 3, 447-455 447

Pyruvate constitutes a critical branch point in cellular carbon metabolism. We have identified two proteins, Mpc1 and Mpc2, as essential for mitochondrial pyruvate transport in yeast, Drosophila, and humans. Mpc1 and Mpc2 associate to form an ~150 kilodalton complex in the inner mitochondrial membrane. Yeast and Drosophila mutants lacking MPC1 display impaired pyruvate metabolism, with an accumulation of upstream metabolites and a depletion of tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediates. Loss of yeast Mpc1 results in defective mitochondrial pyruvate uptake, while silencing of MPC1 or MPC2 in mammalian cells impairs pyruvate oxidation. A point mutation in MPC1 provides resistance to a known inhibitor of the mitochondrial pyruvate carrier. Human genetic studies of three families with children suffering from lactic acidosis and hyperpyruvatemia revealed a causal locus that mapped to MPC1, changing single amino acids that are conserved throughout eukaryotes. These data demonstrate that Mpc1 and Mpc2 form an essential part of the mitochondrial pyruvate carrier.

A Mitochondrial Pyruvate Carrier Required for Pyruvate Uptake in Yeast, Drosophila , and Humans

Daniel K. Bricker, Eric B. Taylor, John C. Schell, Thomas Orsak, et al.
Science Express 24 May 2012

Adenosine deaminase acting on RNA (ADAR) enzymes convert adenosine (A) to inosine (I) in double-stranded (ds) RNAs. Since Inosine is read as Guanosine, the biological consequence of ADAR enzyme activity is an A/G conversion within RNA molecules. A-to-I editing events can occur on both coding and non-coding RNAs, including microRNAs (miRNAs), which are small regulatory RNAs of ~20–23 nucleotides that regulate several cell processes by annealing to target mRNAs and inhibiting their translation. Both miRNA precursors and mature miRNAs undergo A-to-I RNA editing, affecting the miRNA maturation process and activity. ADARs can also edit 3′ UTR of mRNAs, further increasing the interplay between mRNA targets and miRNAs. In this review, we provide a general overview of the ADAR enzymes and their mechanisms of action as well as miRNA processing and function. We then review the more recent findings about the impact of ADAR-mediated activity on the miRNA pathway in terms of biogenesis, target recognition, and gene expression regulation.

Review ADAR Enzyme and miRNA Story: A Nucleotide that Can Make the Difference 

Sara Tomaselli, Barbara Bonamassa, Anna Alisi, Valerio Nobili, Franco Locatelli and Angela Gallo
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 19 Nov 2013; 14, 22796-22816

The fermented wheat germ extract (FWGE) nutraceutical (Avemar™), manufactured under “good manufacturing practice” conditions and, fulfilling the self-affirmed “generally recognized as safe” status in the United States, has been approved as a “dietary food for special medical purposes for cancer patients” in Europe. In this paper, we report the adjuvant use of this nutraceutical in the treatment of high-risk skin melanoma patients. Methods: In a randomized, pilot, phase II clinical trial, the efficacy of dacarbazine (DTIC)-based adjuvant chemotherapy on survival parameters of melanoma patients was compared to that of the same treatment supplemented with a 1-year long administration of FWGE. Results: At the end of an additional 7-year-long follow-up period, log-rank analyses (Kaplan-Meier estimates) showed significant differences in both progression-free (PFS) and overall survival (OS) in favor of the FWGE group. Mean PFS: 55.8 months (FWGE group) versus 29.9 months (control group), p  0.0137. Mean OS: 66.2 months (FWGE group) versus 44.7 months (control group), p < 0.0298. Conclusions: The inclusion of Avemar into the adjuvant protocols of high-risk skin melanoma patients is highly recommended.

Adjuvant Fermented Wheat Germ Extract (Avemar™) Nutraceutical Improves Survival of High-Risk Skin Melanoma Patients: A Randomized, Pilot, Phase II Clinical Study with a 7-Year Follow-Up

LV Demidov, LV Manziuk, GY Kharkevitch, NA Pirogova, and EV Artamonova
Cancer Biotherapy & Radiopharmaceuticals 2008; 23(4)

Cancer cells possess unique metabolic signatures compared to normal cells, including shifts in aerobic glycolysis, glutaminolysis, and de novo biosynthesis of macromolecules. Targeting these changes with agents (drugs and dietary components) has been employed as strategies to reduce the complications associated with tumorigenesis. This paper highlights the ability of several food components to suppress tumor-specific metabolic pathways, including increased expression of glucose transporters, oncogenic tyrosine kinase, tumor-specific M2-type pyruvate kinase, and fatty acid synthase, and the detection of such effects using various metabonomic technologies, including liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) and stable isotope-labeled MS. Stable isotope-mediated tracing technologies offer exciting opportunities for defining specific target(s) for food components. Exposures, especially during the early transition phase from normal to cancer, are critical for the translation of knowledge about food components into effective prevention strategies. Although appropriate dietary exposures needed to alter cellular metabolism remain inconsistent and/or ill-defined, validated metabonomic biomarkers for dietary components hold promise for establishing effective strategies for cancer prevention.

Bioactive Food Components and Cancer-Specific Metabonomic Profiles

Young S. Kim and John A. Milner
Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology 2011, Art ID 721213, 9 pages

This reviewer poses the following observation.  The importance of the pyridine nucleotide reduced/oxidized ratio has not been alluded to here, but the importance cannot be understated. It has relevance to the metabolic functions of anabolism and catabolism of the visceral organs.  The importance of this has ties to the pentose monophosphate pathway. The importance of the pyridine nucleotide transhydrogenase reaction remains largely unexplored.  In reference to the NAD-redox state, the observation was made by Nathan O. Kaplan that the organs may be viewed with respect to their primary functions in anabolic or high energy catabolic activities. Thus we find that the endocrine organs are largely tied to anabolic functioning, and to NADP, whereas cardiac and skeletal muscle are highly dependent on NAD. The consequence of this observed phenomenon appears to be related to a difference in the susceptibility to malignant transformation.  In the case of the gastrointestinal tract, the rate of turnover of the epithelium is very high. However, with the exception of the liver, there is no major activity other than cell turnover. In the case of the liver, there is a major commitment to synthesis of lipids, storage of fuel, and synthesis of proteins, which is largely anabolic, but there is also a major activity in detoxification, which is not.  In addition, the liver has a double circulation. As a result, a Zahn infarct is uncommon.  Now we might also consider the heart.  The heart is a muscle syncytium with a high need for oxygen.  Cutting of the oxygen supply makes the myocytes vulnerable to ischemic insult and abberant rhythm abnormalities.  In addition, the cardiomyocyte can take up lactic acid from the circulation for fuel, which is tied to the utilization of lactate from vigorous skeletal muscle activity.  The skeletal muscle is tied to glycolysis in normal function, which has a poor generation of ATP, so that the recycling of excess lactic acid is required by cardiac muscle and hepatocytes.  This has not been a part of the discussion, but this reviewer considers it important to remember in considering the organ-specific tendencies to malignant transformation.

Comment (Aurelian Udristioiu):

Otto Warburg observed that many cancers lose their capacity for mitochondrial respiration, limiting ATP production to anaerobic glycolytic pathways. The phenomenon is particularly prevalent in aggressive malignancies, most of which are also hypoxic [1].
Hypoxia induces a stochastic imbalance between the numbers of reduced mitochondrial species vs. available oxygen, resulting in increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) whose toxicity can lead to apoptotic cell death.
Mechanism involves inhibition of glycolytic ATP production via a Randle-like cycle while increased uncoupling renders cancers unable to produce compensatory ATP from respiration-.generation in the presence of intact tricarboxylic acid (TCA) enzyme.
One mitochondrial adaptation to increased ROS is over-expression of the uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2) that has been reported in multiple human cancer cell lines [2-3]. Increased UCP2 expression was also associated with reduced ATP production in malignant oxyphilic mouse leukemia and human lymphoma cell lines [4].
Hypoxia reduces the ability of cells to maintain their energy levels, because less ATP is obtained from glycolysis than from oxidative phosphorylation. Cells adapt to hypoxia by activating the expression of mutant genes in glycolysis.
-Severe hypoxia causes a high mutation rate, resulting in point mutations that may be explained by reduced DNA mismatch repairing activity.
The most direct induction of apoptosis caused by hypoxia is determined by the inhibition of the electron carrier chain from the inner membrane of the mitochondria. The lack of oxygen inhibits the transport of protons and thereby causes a decrease in membrane potential. Cell survival under conditions of mild hypoxia is mediated by phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PIK3) using severe hypoxia or anoxia, and then cells initiate a cascade of events that lead to apoptosis [5].
After DNA damage, a very important regulator of apoptosis is the p53 protein. This tumor suppressor gene has mutations in over 60% of human tumors and acts as a suppressor of cell division. The growth-suppressive effects of p53 are considered to be mediated through the transcriptional trans-activation activity of the protein. In addition to the maturational state of the clonal tumor, the prognosis of patients with CLL is dependent of genetic changes within the neoplastic cell population.

1.Warburg O. On the origin of cancer cells. Science 1956; 123 (3191):309-314
PubMed Abstract ; Publisher Full Text

2.Giardina TM, Steer JH, Lo SZ, Joyce DA. Uncoupling protein-2 accumulates rapidly in the inner mitochondrial membrane during mitochondrial reactive oxygen stress in macrophages. Biochim Biophys Acta 2008, 1777(2):118-129. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text

3. Horimoto M, Resnick MB, Konkin TA, Routhier J, Wands JR, Baffy G. Expression of uncoupling protein-2 in human colon cancer. Clin Cancer Res 2004; 10 (18 Pt1):6203-6207. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text

4. Randle PJ, England PJ, Denton RM. Control of the tricarboxylate cycle and it interactions with glycolysis during acetate utilization in rat heart. Biochem J 1970; 117(4):677-695. PubMed Abstract | PubMed Central Full Text

5. Gillies RJ, Robey I, Gatenby RA. Causes and consequences of increased glucose metabolism of cancers. J Nucl Med 2008; 49(Suppl 2):24S-42S. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text

Shortened version of Comment –

Hypoxia induces a stochastic imbalance between the numbers of reduced mitochondrial species vs. available oxygen, resulting in increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) whose toxicity can lead to apoptotic cell death.
Mechanism involves inhibition of glycolytic ATP production via a Randle-like cycle while increased uncoupling renders cancers unable to produce compensatory ATP from respiration-.generation in the presence of intact tricarboxylic acid (TCA) enzyme.
One mitochondrial adaptation to increased ROS is over-expression of the uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2) that has been reported in multiple human cancer cell lines. Increased UCP2 expression was also associated with reduced ATP production in malignant oxyphilic mouse leukemia and human lymphoma cell lines.
Severe hypoxia causes a high mutation rate, resulting in point mutations that may be explained by reduced DNA mismatch repairing activity.

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A Synthesis of the Beauty and Complexity of How We View Cancer

A Synthesis of the Beauty and Complexity of How We View Cancer

Author: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

Cancer Volume One – Summary

A Synthesis of the Beauty and Complexity of How We View Cancer


This document has covered a broad spectrum of the research, translational biology, diagnostics (both laboratory and imaging methodologies), and treatments for a variety of cancers, mainly by organs, and selectively by the most common cancers seen in human populations. A number of observations stand out on review of all the material presented. 1. The most common cancers affecting humans is spread worldwide, with some variation by region. 2. Cancers within geographic regions may be expressed differently in relationship to population migrations, the incidence of specific environmental pollutants, occurrence of insect transmitted and sexually transmitted diseases (HIV, HCV, HPV), and possibly according to age, or relationship to ultraviolet or high dose radiation exposure. 3. Cancers are expressed within generally recognized age timelines. For example, acute lymphocytic leukemia and neuroblastoma in children under 10 years age; malignant giant cell tumor and osteosarcoma in the third and fourth decade; prostate cancer and breast cancer over age 40, and are more aggressive at an earlier age, both having a strong sex hormone dependence. 4. There is dispute about the effectiveness of screening for cancer with respect to what age, excessive risk in treatment modality, and the duration of progression free survival. Despite the evidence of several years potential life extension, a long term survival of 10 years is not the expected outcome. However, the quality of life in the remaining years is a valid point in favor of progress. 5. There has been a significant reduction in toxicity of treatment, but attention has been focused on a patient-centric decision process. 6. There has been a dramatic improvement in surgical approaches, post-surgical surveillance, and in diagnosis by invasive and noninvasive methods, especially in the combination of needle biopsy and imaging techniques. 7. There is significant variation within cancer cell types with respect to disease-free survival.

The work presented has several main components: First, there is the biology and mechanisms involved in carcinogenesis related to (1) mutations; (2) carcinogenesis; (3) cell regulatory mechanisms; (4) cell signaling pathways; (5) apoptosis (6) ubitination (7) mitochondrial dysfunction; (8) cell-cell interactions; (9) cell migration; (10) metastasis. Then there are large portions covering (1) imaging; (2) specific targeted therapy; (3) nanotechology-based therapy; (4) specific organ-type cancers; (5) genomics-based testing; (6) circulating cancer cells; (7) miRNAs; (8) siRNAs; (9) cancer immunology and (10) immunotherapy.

Classically, we refer to cancer development in terms of the germ cell layers – ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm. These are formative in embryonic development. The most active development occurs during embryonic development, with a high growth rate of cells and also a high utilization of energy. The cells utilize oxidation for energy in this period characterized by movement of cells in differentiation and organogenesis. This was observed to be unlike the cell metabolism in carcinogenesis, which is characterized by impaired mitochondrial function and reliance on lactate production for energy – termed anaerobic glycolysis, as investigated by Meyerhof, Embden, Warburg, Szent-Gyorgy, H. Krebs, Theorell, AV Hill, B Chance, P Mitchell, P Boyer, F Lippman, and others.

In addition, the body economy has been divided into two major metabolic compartments: fat and lean body mass (LBM), which is further denoted as visceral and structural. This denotes the gut, kidneys, liver, lung, pancreas, sexual organs, endocrines, brain and fat cells in one compartment, and skeletal muscle, bone and cardiovascular in another. LBM is calculated as fat free mass. Further, brown fat is distinguished from white fat. But this was a first layer of construction of the human body. One peels away this layer to find a second layer. For example, the gut viscera have an inner (outer) epithelial layer, a muscularis, and a deep epithelium, which has circulation and fat. There is also an interstitium between the gut epithelium and muscularis. The lung has an epithelium exposed to the airspaces, then capillaries, and then epithelium, designed for exchange of O2 and CO2, the source of heat generation. The pancreas has an endocrine portion in the islets that are embedded in an exocrine secretory organ. The sexual organs have a combination of glandular structures embedded in a mesothelium.

The structural compartment is entirely accounted for by the force of contraction. If this is purely anatomical, that is not really the case when one goes into the functioning substructures of these tissues – cytoplasm, endoplasmic reticulum (ribosomal), mitochondria, liposomes, chromatin apparatus, cell membrane and vesicles. Within and between these structures are the working and interacting mechanisms of the cell in its unique role. What ties these together was first thought to be found in the dogma following the discovery of the genetic code in 1953 that begat DNA to RNA to protein.

This led to many other discoveries that made it clear that it was only a first approximation. It did not account for noncoding DNA, which became unmasked with the culmination of the Human Genome Project and concurrent advances in genomics (mtDNA, mtRNA, siRNA, exosomes, proteomics, synthetic biology, predictive analytics, and regulatory pathways directed by signaling molecules. Here is a list of signaling pathways: 1. JAK-STAT 2. GPCR 3. Endocrine 4. Cytochemical 5. RTK 6. P13K 7. NF-KB 8. MAPK 9. Ubiquitin 10. TGF-beta 11. Stem cell These signaling pathways have become the basis for the discovery of inhibitors of signaling pathways (suppressors), as well as activators, as these have been considered as specific targets for selective therapy. (.See Figure below) Of course, extensive examination of these pathways has required that all such findings are validated based on the STRENGTH of their effect on the target and in the impact of suppression.

inhibitors of signaling pathways-1


Let us continue this discussion elucidating several major points.  While the early observations that drove the interest in biochemical behavior of cancer cells has been displaced, it has not faded from view.

Bioenergetics of Cancer cells

Michael J. Gonzalez (Bioenergetic_Theory_of_Carcinigenesis. Bioenergetic_Theory_of_Carcinigenesis) maintains that the altered energy metabolism of tumor cells provides a viable target for a non-toxic chemotherapeutic approach.  An increased glucose consumption rate  has been observed in malignant cells. Warburg (NobelLaureate in medicine) postulated that the respiratory process of malignant cells was impaired in the malignant transformation. Szent-Györgyi (Nobel in medicine) also viewed cancer as originating from insufficient oxygen utilization. Oxygen inhibits anaerobic  metabolism (fermentation and lactic acid production). Interestingly, during cell differentiation (where cell energy level is high) there is an increased cellular production of oxidation products that appear to provide physiological stimulation for changes in gene expression that may lead to a terminal differentiated state. The failure to maintain high ATP production (high cell energy levels) may be a consequence of inactivation of key enzymes, especially those related to the Krebs cycle and the electron transport system. A distorted mitochondrial function (transmembrane potential) may result.  This  aspect could be suggestive of an important mitochondrial involvement in the carcinogenic process in addition to presenting it as a possible therapeutic target for cancer. Intermediate metabolic correction of the mitochondria is postulated as a possible non-toxic therapeutic approach for cancer.

Fermentation is the anaerobic metabolic breakdown of glucose without net oxidation. Fermentation does not release all the available energy of glucose or need oxygen as part of its biochemical reactions ;  it merely allows glycolysis  (a process that yields two ATP per mole of glucose) to continue by replenishing reduced coenzymes and yields lactate as its final product. The first step in aerobic and anaerobic energy producing pathways, it occurs in the cytoplasm of cells, not in specialized organelles, and is found in all living organisms.  Cancer cells have a fundamentally different energy metabolism compared to normal cells, that  are obligate aerobes (oxygen-requiring cells)  meeting their energy needs with oxidative metabolic processes., while cancer cells do not  require oxygen for their survival. This increase in glycolytic  flux is a metabolic strategy of tumor cells to ensure growth and    survival  in  environments  with  low   oxygen concentrations.

Radoslav Bozov has commented that the process of genomic evolution cannot be fully revealed through comparative genomicsHe states that DNA would be entropic- favorable stable state going towards absolute ZERO temp. Themodynamics measurement in subnano discrete space would go negative towards negativity. DNA is like a cold melting/growing crystal, quite stable as it appears not due to hydrogen bonding , but due to interference of C-N-O. That force is contradicted via proteins onto which we now know large amount of negative quantum redox state carbon attaches. The more locally one attempts to observe, the more hidden variables would emerge as a consequence of discrete energy spaces opposing continuity of matter/time. But stability emerges out of non-stable states, and never reaches absolute stability, for there would be neither feelings nor freedom.

Membrane potential(Vm)

Membrane potential (Vm), the voltage across the plasma membrane, arises because of the presence of differention channels/transporters with specific ion selectivity and permeability. Vm is a key biophysical signal in non-excitable cells, modulating important cellular activities, such as proliferation and differentiation. Therefore, the multiplicities of various ion channels/transporters expressed on different cells are finely tuned in order to regulate the Vm. (M Yang and WJ Brackenbury.

Membrane potential and cancer progression. Frontiers in Physiol.  2013(4); 185: 1.

It is well-established that cancer cells possess distinct bioelectrical properties. Notably, electrophysiological analyses in many cancer cell types have revealed a depolarized Vm that favors cell proliferation. Ion channels/transporters control cell volume and migration, and emerging data also suggest that the level of Vm has functional roles in cancer cell migration. In addition, yperpolarization is necessary for stem cell differentiation. For example, both osteogenesis and adipogenesis are hindered in human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) under depolarizing conditions. Therefore, in the context of cancer, membrane depolarization might be important for the emergence and maintenance of cancer stem cells (CSCs), giving rise to sustained tumor growth. This review aims to provide a broad understanding of the Vm as a bioelectrical signal in cancer cells by examining several key types of ion channels that contribute to its regulation. The mechanisms by which Vm regulates cancer cell proliferation, migration, and differentiation will be discussed. In the long term, Vm might be avaluable clinical marker for tumor detection with prognostic value, and could even be artificially modified in order to inhibit tumor growth and metastasis.

Perspective beyond Cancer Genomics: Bioenergetics of Cancer Stem Cells

Hideshi Ishii, Yuichiro Doki, and Masaki Mori
Yonsei Med J 2010; 51(5):617-621.   pISSN: 0513-5796, eISSN: 1976-2437

Although the notion that cancer is a disease caused by genetic and epigenetic alterations is now widely accepted, perhaps more emphasis has been given to the fact that cancr is a genetic disease. It should be noted that in the post-genome sequencing project period of the 21st century, the underlined phenomenon nevertheless could not be discarded towards the complete control of cancer disaster as the whole strategy, and in depth investigation of the factors associated with tumorigenesis is required for achieving it. Otto Warburg has won a Nobel Prize in 1931 for the discovery of tumor bioenergetics, which is now commonly used as the basis of positron emission tomography (PET), a highly sensitive noninvasive technique used in cancer diagnosis. Furthermore, the importance of the cancer stem cell (CSC) hypothesis in therapy-related resistance and metastasis has been recognized during the past 2 decades. Accumulating evidence suggests that tumor bioenergetics plays a critical role in CSC regulation; this finding has opened up a new era of cancer medicine, which goes beyond cancer genomics.

Efficient execution of cell death in non-glycolytic cells requires the generation of ROS controlled by the activity of mitochondrial H+-ATP synthase.

Gema Santamaría1,#, Marta Martínez-Diez1,#, Isabel Fabregat2 and José M. Cuezva1,*
Carcinogenesis 2006 27(5):925-935

There is a large body of clinical data documenting that most human carcinomas contain reduced levels of the catalytic subunit of the mitochondrial H+-ATP synthase. In colon and lung cancer this alteration correlates with a poor patient prognosis. Furthermore, recent findings in colon cancer cells indicate that down-regulation of the H+-ATP synthase is linked to the resistance of the cells to chemotherapy. However, the mechanism by which the H+-ATP synthase participates in cancer progression is unknown. In this work, we show that inhibitors of the H+-ATP synthase delay

staurosporine-induced cell death in liver cells that are dependent on oxidative phosphorylation for energy provision whereas it has no effect on glycolytic cells. Efficient execution of cell death requires the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) controlled by the activity of the H+-ATP synthase in a process that is concurrent with the rapid disorganization of the cellular mitochondrial network. The generation of ROS after staurosporine treatment is highly dependent on the mitochondrial membrane potential and most likely caused by reverse electron flow to Complex I. The generated ROS promote the carbonylation and covalent modification of cellular and mitochondrial proteins. Inhibition of the activity of the H+-ATP synthase blunted ROS production, prevented the oxidation of cellular proteins and the modification of mitochondrial proteins, delaying the release of cyt c and the execution of cell death. The results in this work establish the down-regulation of the H+-ATP synthase, and thus of oxidative phosphorylation, as part of the molecular strategy adapted by cancer cells to avoid reactive oxygen species-mediated cell death. Furthermore, the results provide a mechanistic explanation to understand chemotherapeutic resistance of cancer cells that rely on glycolysis as main energy provision pathway.

see also –

The tumor suppressor function of mitochondria: Translation into the clinics

José M. CuezvaÁlvaro D. OrtegaImke Willers, et al.  
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – Molecular Basis of Disease  Dec 2009;  1792(12): 1145–1158

Recently, the inevitable metabolic reprogramming experienced by cancer cells as a result of the onset of cellular proliferation has been added to the list of hallmarks of the cancer cell phenotype. Proliferation is bound to the synchronous fluctuation of cycles of an increased glycolysis concurrent with a restrained oxidative phosphorylation. Mitochondria are key players in the metabolic cycling experienced during proliferation because of their essential roles in the transduction of biological energy and in defining the life–death fate of the cell. These two activities are molecularly and functionally integrated and are both targets of commonly altered cancer genes. Moreover, energetic metabolism of the cancer cell also affords a target to develop new therapies because the activity of mitochondria has an unquestionable tumor suppressor function. In this review, we summarize most of these findings paying special attention to the opportunity that translation of energetic metabolism into the clinics could afford for the management of cancer patients. More specifically, we emphasize the role that mitochondrial β-F1-ATPase has as a marker for the prognosis of different cancer patients as well as in predicting the tumor response to therapy.

Self-Destructive Behavior in Cells May Hold Key to a Longer Life

Carl Zimmer, MY Times  October 5, 2009

In recent years, scientists have found evidence of autophagy in preventing a much wider range of diseases. Many disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease, are the result of certain kinds of proteins forming clumps. Lysosomes can devour these clumps before they cause damage, slowing the onset of diseases.

Lysosomes may also protect against cancer. As mitochondria get old, they cast off charged molecules that can wreak havoc in a cell and lead to potentially cancerous mutations. By gobbling up defective mitochondria, lysosomes may make cells less likely to damage their DNA. Many scientists suspect it is no coincidence that breast cancer cells are often missing autophagy-related genes. The genes may have been deleted by mistake as a breast cell divided. Unable to clear away defective mitochondria, the cell’s descendants become more vulnerable to mutations.

Unfortunately, as we get older, our cells lose their cannibalistic prowess. The decline of autophagy may be an important factor in the rise of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders that become common in old age. Unable to clear away the cellular garbage, our bodies start to fail.

If this hypothesis turns out to be right, then it may be possible to slow the aging process by raising autophagy. It has long been known, for example, that animals that are put on a strict low-calorie diet can live much longer than animals that eat all they can. Recent research has shown that caloric restriction raises autophagy in animals and keeps it high. The animals seem to be responding to their low-calorie diet by feeding on their own cells, as they do during famines. In the process, their cells may also be clearing away more defective molecules, so that the animals age more slowly.

Some scientists are investigating how to manipulate autophagy directly. Dr. Cuervo and her colleagues, for example, have observed that in the livers of old mice, lysosomes produce fewer portals on their surface for taking in defective proteins. So they engineered mice to produce lysosomes with more portals. They found that the altered lysosomes of the old experimental mice could clear away more defective proteins. This change allowed the livers to work better.


Essentiality of pyruvate kinase, oxidation, and phosphorylation

We can move to the next level with greater clarity. Yu et al. reported an important relationship between Pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2) and the Warburg effect of cancer cells ( M Yu, et al. PIM2 phosphorylates PKM2 and promotes Glycolysis in Cancer Cells. J Biol Chem (PMID: 24142698) http://dx.doi.org10.1074/jbc.M113.508226 ).  They found that PIM2 could directly phosphorylate PKM2 on the Thr454 residue, which resulted in an increase of PKM2 protein levels. PKM2 with a phosphorylation-defective mutation displayed a reduced effect on glycolysis compared to the wild-type, thereby co-activating HIF-1α and β-catenin, and enhanced mitochondria respiration and chemotherapeutic sensitivity of cancer cells. This indicated that PIM2-dependent phosphorylation of PKM2 is critical for regulating the Warburg effect in cancer, highlighting PIM2 as a potential therapeutic target.

In another study of the effect of 3 homoplastic mtDNA mutations on oxidative metabolism of osteosarcoma cells, there was a difference proportional to the magnitude of the defect. (Iommarini L, et al. Different mtDNA mutations modify tumor progression in dependence of the degree of respiratory complex I impairment. Hum Mol Genet. 2013 Nov 11. [Epub ahead of print]; PMID: 24163135 ).   Osteosarcoma cells carrying the most marked impairment of the gene encoding mitochondrial complex I  (CI) of oxidative phosphorylation displayed a reduced tumorigenic potential both in vitro and in vivo, when compared with cells with mild CI dysfunction. The severe CI dysfunction was an energetic defect associated with a compensatory increase in glycolytic metabolism and AMP-activated protein kinase activation.  The result suggested that mtDNA mutations may display diverse impact on tumorigenic potential depending on the type and severity of the resulting oxidative phosphorylation dysfunction. The modulation of tumor growth was independent from reactive oxygen species production but correlated with hypoxia-inducible factor 1α stabilization, indicating that structural and functional integrity of CI and oxidative phosphorylation are required for hypoxic adaptation and tumor progression.

An unrelated finding shares some agreement with what has been identified (Systematic isolation of context-dependent vulnerabilities in NSCLC. Cell, 24 Oct 2013; 155 (3): 552-566, j.cell.2013.09.041). They report  three distinct target/response-indicator pairings that are represented with significant frequencies (6%–16%) in the patient population. These include NLRP3 mutation/inflammasome activation-dependent FLIP addiction, co-occurring KRAS and LKB1 mutation-driven COPI addiction, and selective sensitivity to a synthetic indolotriazine that is specified by a seven-gene expression signature.   This is depicted in the Figure below.  The authors noted a frequency and diversity of somatic lesions detected among lung tumors can confound efforts to identify these targets.




The forging of a cancer-metabolism link and twists in the chain (Biome 19th April 2013)

Ten years ago, Grahame Hardie and Dario Alessi discovered that the elusive upstream kinase required for the activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) by metabolic stress that the Hardie lab had been pursuing in their research on the metabolic regulator AMPK was the tumor suppressor, LKB1, that the neighbouring Alessi lab was working on at the time. This finding represented the first clear link between AMPK and cancer.

The resulting paper [1], published in 2003 in what was then Journal of Biology (now BMC Biology), was one [1] of three [2, 3] connecting these two kinases and that helped to swell of a surge of interest in the metabolism of tumor cells that was just beginning at about that time and is still growing. (LKB1 and AMPK and the cancer-metabolism link – ten years after.  D Grahame Hardie, and Dario R Alessi.  BMC Biology 2013, 11:36.   http://dx


In September 2003, both groups published a joint paper [1] in Journal of Biology (now BMC Biology) that identified the long-sought and elusive upstream kinase acting on AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) as a complex containing LKB1, a known tumor suppressor. Similar findings were reported at about the same time by David Carling and Marian Carlson [2] and by Reuben Shaw and Lew Cantley [3]; at the time of writing these three papers have received between them a total of over 2,000 citations. These findings provided a direct link between a protein kinase, AMPK, which at the time was mainly associated with regulation of metabolism, and another protein kinase, LKB1, which was known from genetic studies to be a tumor suppressor. While the idea that cancer is in part a metabolic disorder (first suggested by Warburg in the 1920s [4]) is well recognized today [5], this was not the case in 2003, and our paper perhaps contributed towards its renaissance.

The distinctive metabolic feature of tumor cells that enables them to meet the demands of unrestrained growth is the switch from oxidative generation of ATP to aerobic glycolysis – a phenomenon now well known as the Warburg effect. Operating this switch is one of the central functions of the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) that has long been the focus of research in the Hardie lab. AMPK is an energy sensor that is allosterically tuned by competitive binding of ATP, ADP and AMP to sites on its g regulatory subunit (its portrait here, with AMP bound at two sites, was kindly provided by Bing Xiao and Stephen Gamblin). When phosphorylated by LKB1, AMPK responds to depletion of ATP by turning off anabolic reactions required for growth, and turning on catabolic reactions and oxidative phosphorylation – the reverse of the Warburg effect. In this light, it is not surprising that LKB1  is inactivated in some proportion of many different types of tumors.

AMPK as an energy sensor and metabolic switch

AMPK was discovered as a protein kinase activity that phosphorylated and inactivated two key enzymes of fatty acid and sterol biosynthesis: acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC) and 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase (HMGR). The ACC kinase activity was reported to be activated by 5’-AMP, and the HMGR kinase activity by reversible phosphorylation, but for many years the two activities were thought to be due to distinct enzymes. However, in 1987 the DGH laboratory showed that both were functions of a single protein kinase, which we renamed AMPK after its allosteric activator, 5’-AMP. It was subsequently found that AMPK regulated not only lipid biosynthesis, but also many other metabolic pathways, both by direct phosphorylation of metabolic enzymes, and through longer-term effects mediated by phosphorylation of transcription factors and co-activators. In general, AMPK switches off anabolic pathways that consume ATP and NADPH, while switching on catabolic pathways that generate ATP (Figure 1).


target proteins and metabolic pathways regulated by AMPK 1741-7007-11-36-1_1


Summary of a selection of target proteins and metabolic pathways regulated by AMPK. Anabolic pathways switched off by AMPK are shown in the top half of the ‘wheel’ and catabolic pathways switched on by AMPK in the bottom half. Where a protein target for AMPK responsible for the effect is known, it is shown in the inner wheel; a question mark indicates that it is not yet certain that the protein is directly phosphorylated. For original references see [54].

Key to acronyms: ACC1/ACC2, acetyl-CoA carboxylases-1/-2; HMGR, HMG-CoA reductase; SREBP1c, sterol response element binding protein-1c; CHREBP, carbohydrate response element binding protein; TIF-1A, transcription initiation factor-1A; mTORC1, mechanistic target-of-rapamycin complex-1; PFKFB2/3, 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase, cardiac and inducible isoforms; TBC1D1, TBC1 domain protein-1; SIRT1, sirtuin-1; PGC-1α, PPAR-γ coactivator-1α; ULK1, Unc51-like kinase-1.

Regulation of AMPK  1741-7007-11-36-3


Regulation of AMPK. AMPK can be activated by increases in cellular AMP:ATP or ADP:ATP ratio, or Ca2+ concentration. AMPK is activated >100-fold on conversion from a dephosphorylated form (AMPK) to a form phosphorylated at Thr172 (AMPK-P) catalyzed by at least two upstream kinases: LKB1, which appears to be constitutively active, and CaMKKβ, which is only active when intracellular Ca2+ increases. Increases in AMP or ADP activate AMPK by three mechanisms: (1) binding of AMP or ADP to AMPK, causing a conformational change that promotes phosphorylation by upstream kinases (usually this will be LKB1, unless [Ca2+] is elevated); (2) binding of AMP or ADP, causing a conformational change that inhibits dephosphorylation by protein phosphatases; (3) binding of AMP (and not ADP), causing allosteric activation of AMPK-P. All three effects are antagonized by ATP, allowing AMPK to act as an energy sensor.

AMPK and AMPK-related kinase (ARK) family  1741-7007-11-36-4


Members of the AMPK and AMPK-related kinase (ARK) family. All the kinases named in the figure are phosphorylated and activated by LKB1, although what regulates this phosphorylation is known only for AMPK. Alternative names are shown, where applicable.

AMPK-activating drugs metformin or phenformin might provide protection against cancer 1741-7007-11-36-5



Three possible mechanisms to explain how the AMPK-activating drugs metformin or phenformin might provide protection against cancer. (a) Metformin acts on the liver and other insulin target tissues by activating AMPK (and probably via other targets), normalizing blood glucose; this reduces insulin secretion from pancreatic β cells, reducing the growth-promoting effects of insulin (and high glucose) on tumor cells. Since metformin does not reduce glucose levels in normoglycemic individuals, this mechanism would only operate in insulin-resistant subjects. (b) Metformin or phenformin activates AMPK in pre-neoplastic cells, restraining their growth and proliferation and thus delaying the onset of tumorigenesis; this mechanism would only operate in cells where the LKB1-AMPK pathway was intact. (c) Metformin or phenformin inhibits mitochondrial ATP synthesis in tumor cells, promoting cell death. If the LKB1-AMPK pathway was down-regulated in the tumor cells, they would be more sensitive to cell death induced by the biguanides than surrounding normal cells.

Metformin and phenformin are biguanides that inhibit mitochondrial function and so deplete ATP by inhibiting its production . AMPK is activated by any metabolic stress that depletes ATP, either by inhibiting its production (as do hypoxia, glucose deprivation, and treatment with biguanides) or by accelerating its consumption (as does muscle contraction). By switching off anabolism and other ATP-consuming processes and switching on alternative ATP-producing catabolic pathways, AMPK acts to restore cellular energy homeostasis.

Findings that AMPK is activated in skeletal muscle during exercise and that it increases muscle glucose uptake and fatty acid oxidation led to the suggestion that AMPK-activating drugs might be useful for treating type 2 diabetes. Indeed, it turned out that AMPK is activated by metformin, a drug that had at that time been used to treat type 2 diabetes for over 40 years, and by phenformin , a closely related drug that had been withdrawn for treatment of diabetes due to side effects of lactic acidosis.

If only it were so simple. Effects of metformin on cancer in type 2 diabetics could be secondary to reduction in insulin levels, and although there is evidence for direct effects of AMPK activation on the development of tumors in mice, there is also recent evidence that tumors that become established without down-regulating LKB1 survive metformin better than those that have lost it – probably because metformin poisons the mitochondrial respiratory chain, depressing ATP levels, and cells in which AMPK can still be activated in response to the challenge do better than those in which it can’t.

In their review, Hardie and Alessi chart these  twists and turns, and point to the explosion of further possibilities opened up by the discovery, since their 2003 publication, of at least one other class of kinase upstream of AMPK (the CaM kinases), and at least a dozen other downstream targets of LKB1 (AMPK-related kinases, or ARKs) – not to mention the innumerable downstream targets of AMPK; all which make half their schematic illustrations look like hedgehogs.

Analysis of respiration  in human cancer

Bioenergetic profiling of cancer cells is of great potential because it can bring forward new and effective

Therapeutic  strategies along with early diagnosis. Metabolic Control Analysis (MCA) is a methodology that enables quantification of the flux control exerted by different enzymatic steps in a metabolic network thus assessing their contribution to the system‘s function.

(T Kaambre,V Chekulayev, I Shevchuk, et al. Metabolic control analysis of respiration  in human cancer tissue.  Frontiers Physiol 2013 (4); 151:  1.

Our main goal is to demonstrate the applicability of MCA for in situ studies of energy

Metabolism in human breast and colorectal cancer cells as well as in normal tissues .We seek to determine the metabolic conditions leading to energy flux redirection in cancer cells. A main result obtained is that the adenine nucleotide translocator exhibits the highest control of respiration in human breast cancer thus becoming a prospective therapeutic target. Additionally, we present evidence suggesting the existence of mitochondrial respiratory supercomplexes that may represent a way by which cancer cells avoid apoptosis. The data obtained show that MCA applied in situ can be insightful in cancer cell energetic research.

Metabolic control analysis of respiration in human cancer tissue. fphys-04-00151-g001

Metabolic control analysis of respiration in human cancer tissue.

Representative traces of change in the rate of oxygen consumption by permeabilized human colorectal cancer (HCC) fibers after their titration with increasing concentrations of mersalyl, an inhibitor of inorganic phosphate carrier (panel A). The values of respiration rate obtained were plotted vs. mersalyl concentration (panel B) and from the plot the corresponding flux control coefficient was calculated. Bars are ±SEM.

Oncologic diseases such as breast and colorectal cancers are still one of the main causes of premature death. The low efficiency of contemporary medicine in the treatment of these malignancies is largely mediated by a poor understanding of the processes involved in metastatic dissemination of cancer cells as well as the unique energetic properties of mitochondria from tumors. Current knowledge supports the idea that human breast and colorectal cancer cells exhibit increased rates of glucose consumption displaying Warburg phenotype,i.e.,elevated glycolysis even in the presence of oxygen (Warburg and Dickens, 1930; Warburg, 1956 ;Izuishietal., 2012). Notwithstanding,  there are some evidences that in these malignancies mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) is the main source of ATP rather than glycolysis. Cancer cells have been classified according to their pattern of metabolic remodeling depending of the relative balance between aerobic glycolysis and OXPHOS (Bellanceetal.,2012). The first type of tumor cells is highly glycolytic, the second OXPHOS deficient and the third type of tumors dislay enhanced OXPHOS. Recent studies strongly sug gest  that cancer cells can utilize lactate, free fatty acids, ketone bodies, butyrate and glutamine as key respiratory substrate selic iting metabolic remodeling of normal surrounding cells toward aerobic glycolysis—“reverse Warburg”effect (Whitaker-Menezes et al.,2011;Salem et al.,2012;Sotgia et al.,2012;Witkiewicz et al., 2012).

In normal cells,the OXPHOS system is usually closely linked to phosphotransfer systems, including various creatine kinase(CK) isotypes,which ensure a safe operation of energetics over a broad functional range of cellular activities (Dzejaand Terzic,2003).  However, our current knowledge about the function of CK/creatine (Cr) system in human breast and colorectal cancer is insufficient. In some malignancies, for example sarcomas the CK/Cr system was shown to be strongly downregulated (Beraetal.,2008;Patraetal.,2008).  Our previous studies showed  that the mitochondrial-bound CK (MtCK) activity was significantly decreased in HL-1 tumor cells (Mongeetal.,2009), as compared to normal parent cardiac cells where the OXPHOS is the main ATP source of and the CK system is a main energy carrier. In the present study,we estimated the role of MtCK in maintaining energy homeostasis in human colorectal cancer cells. Understanding the control and regulation of energy metabolism requires analytical tools that take into account  the existing interactions between individual network components and their impact on systemic network function. Metabolic Control Analysis(MCA) is a theoretical framework relating the properties of metabolic systems to the kinetic characteristics of their individual enzymatic components (Fell,2005). An experimental approach of MCA has been already successfully applied to the studies of OXPHOS in isolated mitochondria (Tageretal.,1983; Kunzetal.,1999; Rossignoletal.,2000)  and in skinned muscle fibers (Kuznetsovetal.,1997;Teppetal.,2010).

Metabolic control analysis of respiration in human cancer tissue

Values of basal (Vo) and maximal respiration rate (Vmax, in the presence of 2 mM ADP) and apparent Michaelis Menten constant (Km) for ADP in permeabilized human breast and colorectal cancer samples as well as health tissue. – See more at:

Role of Uncoupling Proteins in Cancer

Adamo Valle, Jordi Oliver and Pilar Roca *
Cancers 2010; 2: 567-591;

Since Otto Warburg discovered that most cancer cells predominantly produce energy by glycolysis rather than by oxidative phosphorylation in mitochondria, much interest has been focused on the alterations of these organelles in cancer cells. Mitochondria have been shown to be key players in numerous cellular events tightly related with the biology of cancer. Although energy production relies on the glycolytic pathway in cancer cells, these organelles also participate in many other processes essential for cell survival and proliferation such as ROS production, apoptotic and necrotic cell death, modulation of oxygen concentration, calcium and iron homeostasis, and certain metabolic and biosynthetic pathways. Many of these mitochondrial-dependent processes are altered in cancer cells, leading to a phenotype characterized, among others, by higher oxidative stress, inhibition of apoptosis, enhanced cell proliferation, chemoresistance, induction of angiogenic genes and aggressive fatty acid oxidation. Uncoupling proteins, a family of inner mitochondrial membrane proteins specialized in energy-dissipation, has aroused enormous interest in cancer due to their relevant impact on such processes and their potential for the development of novel therapeutic strategies.

Uncoupling proteins (UCPs) are a family of inner mitochondrial membrane proteins whose function is to allow the re-entry of protons to the mitochondrial matrix, by dissipating the proton gradient and, subsequently, decreasing membrane potential and production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Due to their pivotal role in the intersection between energy efficiency and oxidative stress UCPs are being investigated for a potential role in cancer. In this review we compile the latest evidence showing a link between uncoupling and the carcinogenic process, paying special attention to their involvement in cancer initiation, progression and drug chemoresistance.

The Warburg Effect

Uncoupling the Warburg effect from cancer

A Najafov and DR Alessi
Proc Nat Acad Sci                            
A remarkable trademark of most tumors is their ability to break down glucose by glycolysis at a vastly higher rate than in normal tissues, even when oxygen is copious. This phenomenon, known as the Warburg effect, enables rapidly dividing tumor cells to generate essential biosynthetic building blocks such as nucleic acids, amino acids, and lipids from glycolytic intermediates to permit growth and duplication of cellular components during  division (1). An assumption dominating research in this area is that the Warburg effect is specific to cancer. Thus, much of the focus has been on uncovering mechanisms by which cancer-causing mutations influence metabolism to stimulate glycolysis.

This has lead to many exciting discoveries. For example, the p53 tumor suppressor can suppress glycolysis through its ability to control expression of key metabolic genes, such as phosphoglycerate mutase (2), synthesis of cytochrome C oxidase-2 (3), and TP53-induced glycolysis and apoptosis regulator (TIGAR) (4). Many cancer-causing mutations lead to activation of the Akt and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway that profoundly influences metabolism and expression of metabolic enzymes to promoteglycolysis (5).

Strikingly, all cancer cells but not nontransformed cells express a specific splice variant of pyruvate kinase, termed M2-PK, that is less active, leading to the build up of phosphoenolpyruvate (6). Recent work has revealed that reduced activity of M2-PK promotes a unique glycolytic pathway in which phosphoenolpyruvate is converted to pyruvate by a histidine-dependent phosphorylation of phosphoglycerate mutase, promoting assimilation of glycolytic products into biomass (7). However, despite these observations, one might imagine that the Warburg effect need not be specific for cancer and that any normal cell would need to stimulate glycolysis to generate sufficient biosynthetic materials to fuel expansion and division.

Recent work by Salvador Moncada’s group published in PNAS (8) and other recent work from the same group (9, 10) provides exciting evidence supporting the idea that the Warburg effect is also required for the proliferation of noncancer cells.

The key discovery was that the anaphase promoting complex/cyclosome-Cdh1(APC/C-Cdh1), a master regulator of the transition of G1 to S phase of the cell cycle, inhibits glycolysis in proliferating noncancer cells by mediating the degradation of two key metabolic enzymes, namely 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/ fructose-2,6-bisphosphatase isoform3 (PFKFB3) (9, 10) and glutaminase-(Fig. 1) (8).

Fig. 1. Mechanism by which APC_C-Cdh1 inhibits glycolysis and glutaminolysis to suppress cell proliferation


Fig.  Mechanism by which APC/C-Cdh1 inhibits glycolysis and glutaminolysis to suppress cell proliferation.

APC/C-Cdh1 E3 ligase recognizes KEN-box–containing metabolic enzymes, such as PFKFB3 and glutaminase-1 (GLS1), and ubiquitinates and targets them for proteasomal degradation. This inhibits glycolysis and glutaminolysis, leading to decrease in metabolites that can be assimilated into biomass, thereby suppressing proliferation.

PFKFB3 potently stimulates glycolysis by catalyzing the formation of fructose-2,6-bisphosphate, the allosteric activatorof 6-phosphofructo-1-kinase (11). Glutaminase-1 is the first enzyme in glutaminolysis, converting glutamine to lactate, yielding biosyntheticintermediates required for cell proliferation (12).

APC/C is a cell cycle-regulated E3 ubiquitin ligase that promotes ubiquitination of a distinct set of cell cycle proteins containing either a D-box (destruction box) or a KEN-box, named after the essential Lys-Glu-Asn motif required for APC recognition (13). Among its well-known substrates are crucial cell cycle proteins, such as cyclin B1, securin, and Plk1. By ubiquitinating and targeting its substrates to 26S proteasome-mediated degradation, APC/C regulates processes in late mitotic stage, exit  from mitosis, and several events in G1 (14). The Cdh1 subunit is the KENbox binding adaptor of the APC/C ligase and is essential for G1/S transition.

Importantly, APC/C-Cdh1 is inactivated at the initiation of the S-phase of the cell cycle when DNA and cellular organelles are replicated at the time of the greatest need for generation of biosynthetic materials. APC/C-Cdh1 is reactivated later at the mitosis/G1 phase of the cell cycle when there is a lower requirement for biomassgeneration.

Both PFKFB3 (9, 10) and glutaminase-1 (8) possess a KEN-box and are rapidly degraded in nonneoplastic lymphocytes during the cell cycle when APC/C-Cdh1 is active. Consistent with destruction being mediated by APC-C-Cdh1, ablation of the KEN-box prevents degradation of PFKFB3 (9, 10) and glutaminase-1 (8). Inhibiting the proteasomal-dependent degradation with the MG132 inhibitor

markedly increases levels of ubiquitinated PFKFB3 and glutaminase-1 (8). Moreover, overexpression of Cdh1 to activate APC/C-Cdh1 decreases levels of PFKFB3 as well as glutmaninase-1 and concomitantly inhibited glycolysis, as judged by decrease in lactate production. This effect is also observed when cells were treated with a glutaminase-1 inhibitor (6-diazo-5- oxo-L-norleucine) (8). The final evidence supporting the authors’ hypothesis is that proliferation and glycolysis is inhibited after shRNA-mediated silencing of either PFKFB3 or glutaminase-1 (8).

These results are interesting, because unlike most recent work in this area, Colombo et al. (8) link the Warburg effect to the machinery of the cell cycle that is present in all cells rather than to cancer driving mutations. Further work is required to properly define the overall importance of this pathway, which has thus far only been studied in a limited number of cells. It would also be of value to undertake a more detailed analysis of how the rate of glycolysis and other metabolic pathways vary during the cell cycle of normal and cancer cells…(see full 2 page article) at PNAS.


The Warburg Effect Suppresses Oxidative Stress Induced Apoptosis in a Yeast Model for Cancer

C Ruckenstuhl, S Buttner, D Carmona-Gutierre, et al.
PLoS ONE 2009; 4(2): e4592.

Colonies of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, suitable for manipulation of mitochondrial respiration and shows mitochondria-mediated cell death, were used as a model. Repression of respiration as well as ROS-scavenging via glutathione inhibited apoptosis, conferred a survival advantage during seeding and early development of this fast proliferating solid cell population. In contrast, enhancement of respiration triggered cell death.

Conclusion/Significance: The Warburg effect might directly contribute to the initiation of cancer formation – not only by enhanced glycolysis – but also via decreased respiration in the presence of oxygen, which suppresses apoptosis.


PIM2 phosphorylates PKM2 and promotes Glycolysis in Cancer Cells
Z Yu, L Huang, T Zhang, et al.
J Biol Chem 2013;                     

Serine/threonine protein kinase PIM2, a known oncogene is a binding partner of pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2), a key player in the Warburg effect of cancer cells.   PIM2 interacts with PKM2 and phosphorylates PKM2 on the Thr454 residue.

The phosphorylation of PKM2 increases glycolysis and proliferation in cancer cells.

The PIM2-dependent phosphoirylation of ZPKM2 is critical for regulating the Warburg effect in cancer.


Genome-Scale Metabolic Modeling Elucidates the Role of Proliferative Adaptation in Causing the Warburg Effect

Shlomi T, Benyamini T, Gottlieb E, Sharan R, Ruppin E
PLoS Comput Biol 2011; 7(3): e1002018.
The Warburg effect – a classical hallmark of cancer metabolism – is a counter-intuitive phenomenon in which rapidly proliferating cancer cells resort to inefficient ATP production via glycolysis leading to lactate secretion, instead of relying primarily on more efficient energy production through mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, as most normal cells do.

The causes for the Warburg effect have remained a subject of considerable controversy since its discovery over 80 years ago, with several competing hypotheses. Here, utilizing a genome-scale human metabolic network model accounting for stoichiometric and enzyme solvent capacity considerations, we show that the Warburg effect is a direct consequence of the metabolic adaptation of cancer cells to increase biomass production rate. The analysis is shown to accurately capture a three phase metabolic behavior that is observed experimentally during oncogenic progression, as well as a prominent characteristic of cancer cells involving their preference for glutamine uptake over other amino acids.


The metabolic advantage of tumor cells

Maurice Israël and Laurent Schwartz

Additional article information


1- Oncogenes express proteins of “Tyrosine kinase receptor pathways”, a receptor family including insulin or IGF-Growth Hormone receptors. Other oncogenes alter the PP2A phosphatase brake over these kinases.

2- Experiments on pancreatectomized animals; treated with pure insulin or total pancreatic extracts, showed that choline in the extract, preserved them from hepatomas.

Since choline is a methyle donor, and since methylation regulates PP2A, the choline protection may result from PP2A methylation, which then attenuates kinases.

3- Moreover, kinases activated by the boosted signaling pathway inactivate pyruvate kinase and pyruvate dehydrogenase. In addition, demethylated PP2A would no longer dephosphorylate these enzymes. A “bottleneck” between glycolysis and the oxidative-citrate cycle interrupts the glycolytic pyruvate supply now provided via proteolysis and alanine transamination. This pyruvate forms lactate (Warburg effect) and NAD+ for glycolysis. Lipolysis and fatty acids provide acetyl CoA; the citrate condensation increases, unusual oxaloacetate sources are available. ATP citrate lyase follows, supporting aberrant transaminations with glutaminolysis and tumor lipogenesis. Truncated urea cycles, increased polyamine synthesis, consume the methyl donor SAM favoring carcinogenesis.

4- The decrease of butyrate, a histone deacetylase inhibitor, elicits epigenic changes (PETEN, P53, IGFBP decrease; hexokinase, fetal-genes-M2, increase)

5- IGFBP stops binding the IGF – IGFR complex, it is perhaps no longer inherited by a single mitotic daughter cell; leading to two daughter cells with a mitotic capability.

6- An excess of IGF induces a decrease of the major histocompatibility complex MHC1, Natural killer lymphocytes should eliminate such cells that start the tumor, unless the fever prostaglandin PGE2 or inflammation, inhibit them…


The metabolic network of biochemical pathways forms a system controlled by a few switches, changing the finality of this system. Specific substrates and hormones control such switches. If for example, glycemia is elevated, the pancreas releases insulin, activating anabolism and oxidative glycolysis, energy being required to form new substance or refill stores. If starvation decreases glycemia, glucagon and epinephrine activate gluconeogenesis and ketogenesis to form nutriments, mobilizing body stores. The different finalities of the system are or oriented by switches sensing the NADH/NAD+, the ATP/AMP, the cAMP/AMP ratios or the O2 supply… We will not describe here these metabolic finalities and their controls found in biochemistry books.

Many of the switches depend of the phosphorylation of key enzymes that are active or not. Evidently, there is some coordination closing or opening the different pathways. Take for example gluconeogenesis, the citrate condensation slows down, sparing OAA, which starts the gluconeogenic pathway. In parallel, one also has to close pyruvate kinase (PK); if not, phosphoenolpyruvate would give back pyruvate, interrupting the pathway. Hence, the properties of key enzymes acting like switches on the pathway specify the finality of the system. Our aim is to show that tumor cells invent a new specific finality, with mixed glycolysis and gluconeogenesis features. This very special metabolism gives to tumor cells a selective advantage over normal cells, helping the tumor to develop at the detriment of the rest of the body.

I Abnormal metabolism of tumors, a selective advantage

The initial observation of Warburg 1956 on tumor glycolysis with lactate production is still a crucial observation [1]. Two fundamental findings complete the metabolic picture: the discovery of the M2 pyruvate kinase (PK) typical of tumors [2] and the implication of tyrosine kinase signals and subsequent phosphorylations in the M2 PK blockade [35].

A typical feature of tumor cells is a glycolysis associated to an inhibition of apoptosis. Tumors over-express the high affinity hexokinase 2, which strongly interacts with the mitochondrial ANT-VDAC-PTP complex. In this position, close to the ATP/ADP exchanger (ANT), the hexokinase receives efficiently its ATP substrate [6,7]. As long as hexokinase occupies this mitochondria site, glycolysis is efficient. However, this has another consequence, hexokinase pushes away from the mitochondria site the permeability transition pore (PTP), which inhibits the release of cytochrome C, the apoptotic trigger [8]. The site also contains a voltage dependent anion channel (VDAC) and other proteins. The repulsion of PTP by hexokinase would reduce the pore size and the release of cytochrome C. Thus, the apoptosome-caspase proteolytic structure does not assemble in the cytoplasm. The liver hexokinase or glucokinase, is different it has less interaction with the site, has a lower affinity for glucose; because of this difference, glucose goes preferentially to the brain.

Further, phosphofructokinase gives fructose 1-6 bis phosphate; glycolysis is stimulated if an allosteric analogue, fructose 2-6 bis phosphate increases in response to a decrease of cAMP. The activation of insulin receptors in tumors has multiple effects, among them; a decrease of cAMP, which will stimulate glycolysis.

Another control point is glyceraldehyde P dehydrogenase that requires NAD+ in the glycolytic direction. If the oxygen supply is normal, the mitochondria malate/aspartate (MAL/ASP) shuttle forms the required NAD+ in the cytosol and NADH in the mitochondria. In hypoxic conditions, the NAD+ will essentially come via lactate dehydrogenase converting pyruvate into lactate. This reaction is prominent in tumor cells; it is the first discovery of Warburg on cancer.

At the last step of glycolysis, pyruvate kinase (PK) converts phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP) into pyruvate, which enters in the mitochondria as acetyl CoA, starting the citric acid cycle and oxidative metabolism. To explain the PK situation in tumors we must recall that PK only works in the glycolytic direction, from PEP to pyruvate, which implies that gluconeogenesis uses other enzymes for converting pyruvate into PEP. In starvation, when cells need glucose, one switches from glycolysis to gluconeogenesis and ketogenesis; PK and pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) are off, in a phosphorylated form, presumably following a cAMP-glucagon-adrenergic signal. In parallel, pyruvate carboxylase (Pcarb) becomes active. Moreover, in starvation, much alanine comes from muscle protein proteolysis, and is transaminated into pyruvate. Pyruvate carboxylase first converts pyruvate to OAA and then, PEP carboxykinase converts OAA to PEP etc…, until glucose. The inhibition of PK is necessary, if not one would go back to pyruvate. Phosphorylation of PK, and alanine, inhibit the enzyme.

Well, tumors have a PK and a PDH inhibited by phosphorylation and alanine, like for gluconeogenesis, in spite of an increased glycolysis! Moreover, in tumors, one finds a particular PK, the M2 embryonic enzyme [2,9,10] the dimeric, phosphorylated form is inactive, leading to a “bottleneck “. The M2 PK has to be activated by fructose 1-6 bis P its allosteric activator, whereas the M1 adult enzyme is a constitutive active form. The M2 PK bottleneck between glycolysis and the citric acid cycle is a typical feature of tumor cell glycolysis.

We also know that starvation mobilizes lipid stores from adipocyte to form ketone bodies, they are like glucose, nutriments for cells. Growth hormone, cAMP, AMP, activate a lipase, which provides fatty acids; their β oxidation cuts them into acetyl CoA in mitochondria and in peroxisomes for very long fatty acids; forming ketone bodies. Normally, citrate synthase slows down, to spare acetyl CoA for the ketogenic route, and OAA for the gluconeogenic pathway. Like for starvation, tumors mobilize lipid stores. But here, citrate synthase activity is elevated, condensing acetyl CoA and OAA [1113]; citrate increases, ketone bodies decrease. Consequently, ketone bodies will stop stimulating Pcarb. In tumors, the OAA needed for citrate synthase will presumably come from PEP, via reversible PEP carboxykinase or other sources. The quiescent Pcarb will not process the pyruvate produced by alanine transamination after proteolysis, leaving even more pyruvate to lactate dehydrogenase, increasing the lactate released by the tumor, and the NAD+ required for glycolysis.

Above the bottleneck, the massive entry of glucose accumulates PEP, which converts to OAA via mitochondria PEP carboxykinase, an enzyme requiring biotine-CO2-GDP. This source of OAA is abnormal, since Pcarb, another biotin-requiring enzyme, should have provided OAA. Tumors may indeed contain “morule inclusions” of biotin-enzyme [14] suggesting an inhibition of Pcarb, presumably a consequence of the maintained citrate synthase activity, and decrease of ketone bodies that normally stimulate Pcarb. The OAA coming via PEP carboxykinase and OAA coming from aspartate transamination or via malate dehydrogenase condenses with acetyl CoA, feeding the elevated tumoral citric acid condensation starting the Krebs cycle. Thus, tumors have to find large amounts of acetyl CoA for their condensation reaction; it comes essentially from lipolysis and β oxidation of fatty acids, and enters in the mitochondria via the carnitine transporter. This is the major source of acetyl CoA; since PDH that might have provided acetyl CoA remains in tumors, like PK, in the inactive phosphorylated form. The blockade of PDH [15] was recently reversed by inhibiting its kinase [16,17].

The key question is then to find out why NADH, a natural citrate synthase inhibitor did not switch off the enzyme in tumor cells. Probably, the synthesis of NADH by the dehydrogenases of the Krebs cycle and malate/aspartate shuttle, was too low, or the oxidation of NADH via the respiratory electron transport chain and mitochondrial complex1 (NADH dehydrogenase) was abnormally elevated. Another important point concerns PDH and α ketoglutarate dehydrogenase that are homologous enzymes, they might be regulated in a concerted way; when PDH is off, α ketoglutarate dehydrogenase might be also be slowed. Moreover, this could be associated to an upstream inhibition of aconinase by NO, or more probably to a blockade of isocitrate dehydrogenase, which favors in tumor cells, the citrate efflux from mitochondria, and the ATP citrate lyase route.

Normally, an increase of NADH inhibits the citrate condensation, favoring the ketogenic route associated to gluconeogenesis, which turns off glycolysis. Apparently, this regulation does not occur in tumors, since citrate synthase remains active. Moreover, in tumor cells, the α ketoglutarate not processed by
α ketoglutarate dehydrogenase converts to glutamate, via glutamate dehydrogenase, in this direction the reaction forms NAD+, backing up the LDH production. Other sources of glutamate are glutaminolysis, which increases in tumors [2].

The Figure Figure11 shows how tumors bypass the PK and PDH bottlenecks and evidently, the increase of glucose influx above the bottleneck, favors the supply of substrates to the pentose shunt, as pentose is needed for synthesizing ribonucleotides, RNA and DNA. The Figure Figure11 represents the stop below the citrate condensation. Hence, citrate quits the mitochondria to give via ATP citrate lyase, acetyl CoA and OAA in the cytosol of tumor cells. Acetyl CoA supports the synthesis of fatty acids and the formation of triglycerides. The other product of the ATP citrate lyase reaction, OAA, drives the transaminase cascade (ALAT and GOT transaminases) in a direction that consumes GLU and glutamine and converts in fine alanine into pyruvate and lactate plus NAD+. This consumes protein body stores that provide amino acids and much alanine (like in starvation).

The Figure Figure11 indicates that malate dehydrogenase is a source of NAD+ converting OAA into malate, which backs-up LDH. Part of the malate converts to pyruvate (malic enzyme) and processed by LDH. Moreover, malate enters in mitochondria via the shuttle and gives back OAA to feed the citrate condensation. Glutamine will also provide amino groups for the “de novo” synthesis of purine and pyrimidine bases particularly needed by tumor cells. The Figure Figure11 indicates that ASP shuttled out of the mitochondrial, joins the ASP formed by cytosolic transaminases, to feed the synthesis of pyrimidine bases via ASP transcarbamylase, a process also enhanced in tumor cells. In tumors, this silences the argininosuccinate synthetase step of the urea cycle [1820].

This blockade also limits the supply of fumarate to the Krebs cycle. The latter, utilizes the α ketoglutarate provided by the transaminase reaction, since α ketoglutarate coming via aconitase slows down. Indeed, NO and peroxynitrite increase in tumors and probably block aconitase. The Figure Figure11 indicates the cleavage of arginine into urea and ornithine. In tumors, the ornithine production increases, following the polyamine pathway. Ornithine is decarboxylated into putrescine by ornithine decarboxylase, then it captures the backbone of S adenosyl methionine (SAM) to form polyamines spermine then spermidine, the enzyme controlling the process is SAM decarboxylase. The other reaction product, 5-methlthioribose is then decomposed into methylthioribose and adenine, providing purine bases to the tumor. We shall analyze below the role of SAM in the carcinogenic mechanism, its destruction aggravates the process.

metabolic pathways 1476-4598-10-70-1
Cancer metabolism. Glycolysis is elevated in tumors, but a pyruvate kinase (PK) “bottleneck” interrupts phosphoenol pyruvate (PEP) to pyruvate conversion. Thus, alanine following muscle proteolysis transaminates to pyruvate, feeding lactate dehydrogenase,

In summary, it is like if the mechanism switching from gluconeogenesis to glycolysis was jammed in tumors, PK and PDH are at rest, like for gluconeogenesis, but citrate synthase is on. Thus, citric acid condensation pulls the glucose flux in the glycolytic direction, which needs NAD+; it will come from the pyruvate to lactate conversion by lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) no longer in competition with a quiescent Pcarb. Since the citrate condensation consumes acetyl CoA, ketone bodies do not form; while citrate will support the synthesis of triglycerides via ATP citrate lyase and fatty acid synthesis… The cytosolic OAA drives the transaminases in a direction consuming amino acid. The result of these metabolic changes is that tumors burn glucose while consuming muscle protein and lipid stores of the organism. In a normal physiological situation, one mobilizes stores for making glucose or ketone bodies, but not while burning glucose! Tumor cell metabolism gives them a selective advantage over normal cells. However, one may attack some vulnerable points.

Cancer metabolism. Glycolysis is elevated in tumors, but a pyruvate kinase (PK) “bottleneck” interrupts phosphoenol pyruvate (PEP) to pyruvate conversion. Thus, alanine following muscle proteolysis transaminates to pyruvate, feeding lactate dehydrogenase, converting pyruvate to lactate, (Warburg effect) and NAD+ required for glycolysis. Cytosolic malate dehydrogenase also provides NAD+ (in OAA to MAL direction). Malate moves through the shuttle giving back OAA in the mitochondria. Below the PK-bottleneck, pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) is phosphorylated (second bottleneck). However, citrate condensation increases: acetyl-CoA, will thus come from fatty acids β-oxydation and lipolysis, while OAA sources are via PEP carboxy kinase, and malate dehydrogenase, (pyruvate carboxylase is inactive). Citrate quits the mitochondria, (note interrupted Krebs cycle). In the cytosol, ATPcitrate lyase cleaves citrate into acetyl CoA and OAA. Acetyl CoA will make fatty acids-triglycerides. Above all, OAA pushes transaminases in a direction usually associated to gluconeogenesis! This consumes protein stores, providing alanine (ALA); like glutamine, it is essential for tumors. The transaminases output is aspartate (ASP) it joins with ASP from the shuttle and feeds ASP transcarbamylase, starting pyrimidine synthesis. ASP in not processed by argininosuccinate synthetase, which is blocked, interrupting the urea cycle. Arginine gives ornithine via arginase, ornithine is decarboxylated into putrescine by ornithine decarboxylase. Putrescine and SAM form polyamines (spermine spermidine) via SAM decarboxylase. The other product 5-methylthioadenosine provides adenine. Arginine deprivation should affect tumors. The SAM destruction impairs methylations, particularly of PP2A, removing the “signaling kinase brake”, PP2A also fails to dephosphorylate PK and PDH, forming the “bottlenecks”. (Black arrows = interrupted pathways).

 II Starters for cancer metabolic anomaly

1. Lessons from oncogenes

Following the discovery of Rous sarcoma virus transmitting cancer [21], we have to wait the work of Stehelin [22] to realize that this retrovirus only transmitted a gene captured from a previous host. When one finds that the transmitted gene encodes the Src tyrosine kinase, we are back again to the tyrosine kinase signals, similar to those activated by insulin or IGF, which control carbohydrate metabolism, anabolism and mitosis.

An up regulation of the gene product, now under viral control causes tumors. However, the captured viral oncogene (v-oncogene) derives from a normal host gene the proto-oncogene. The virus only perturbs the expression of a cellular gene the proto-oncogene. It may modify its expression, or its regulation, or transmit a mutated form of the proto-oncogene. Independently of any viral infection, a similar tumorigenic process takes place, if the proto-oncogene is translocated in another chromosome; and transcribed under the control of stronger promoters. In this case, the proto-oncogene becomes an oncogene of cellular origin (c-oncogene). The third mode for converting a prot-oncogene into an oncogene occurs if a retrovirus simply inserts its strong promoters in front of the proto-oncogene enhancing its expression.

It is impressive to find that retroviral oncogenes and cellular oncogenes disturb this major signaling pathway: the MAP kinases mitogenic pathways. At the ligand level we find tumors such Wilm’s kidney cancer, resulting from an increased expression of insulin like growth factor; we have also the erbB or V-int-2 oncogenes expressing respectively NGF and FGF growth factor receptors. The receptors for these ligands activate tyrosine kinase signals, similarly to insulin receptors. The Rous sarcoma virus transmits the src tyrosine kinase, which activates these signals, leading to a chicken leukemia. Similarly, in murine leukemia, a virus captures and retransmits the tyrosine kinase abl. Moreover, abl is also stimulated if translocated and expressed with the bcr gene of chromosome 22, as a fusion protein (Philadelphia chromosome). Further, ahead Ras exchanging protein for GTP/GDP, and then the Raf serine-threonine kinases proto-oncogenes are known targets for oncogenes. Finally, at the level of transcription factors activated by MAP kinases, one finds cjun, cfos or cmyc. An avian leucosis virus stimulates cmyc, by inserting its strong viral promoter. The retroviral attacks boost the mitogenic MAP kinases similarly to inflammatory cytokins, or to insulin signals, that control glucose transport and gycolysis.

In addition to the MAP kinase mitogenic pathway, tyrosine kinase receptors activate PI3 kinase pathways; PTEN phosphatase counteracts this effect, thus acting as a tumor suppressor. Recall that a DNA virus, the Epstein-Barr virus of infectious mononucleose, gives also the Burkitt lymphoma; the effect of the virus is to enhance PI3 kinase. Down stream, we find mTOR (the target of rapamycine, an immune-suppressor) mTOR, inhibits PP2A phosphatase, which is also a target for the simian SV40 and Polyoma viruses. Schematically, one may consider that the different steps of MAP kinase pathways are targets for retroviruses, while the different steps of PI3 kinase pathway are targets for DNA viruses. The viral-driven enhanced function of these pathways mimics the effects of their prolonged activation by their usual triggers, such as insulin or IGF; one then expects to find an associated increase of glycolysis. The insulin or IGF actions boost the cellular influx of glucose and glycolysis. However, if the signaling pathway gets out of control, the tyrosine kinase phosphorylations may lead to a parallel PK blockade [35] explaining the tumor bottleneck at the end of glycolysis. Since an activation of enyme kinases may indeed block essential enzymes (PK, PDH and others); in principle, the inactivation of phosphatases may also keep these enzymes in a phosphorylated form and lead to a similar bottleneck and we do know that oncogenes bind and affect PP2A phosphatase. In sum, a perturbed MAP kinase pathway, elicits metabolic features that would give to tumor cells their metabolic advantage.

2. The methylation hypothesis and the role of PP2A phosphatase

In a remarkable comment, Newberne [23] highlights interesting observations on the carcinogenicity of diethanolamine [24] showing that diethanolamine decreased choline derivatives and methyl donors in the liver, like does a choline deficient diet. Such conditions trigger tumors in mice, particularly in the B6C3F1 strain. Again, the historical perspective recalled by Newberne’s comment brings us back to insulin. Indeed, after the discovery of insulin in 1922, Banting and Best were able to keep alive for several months depancreatized dogs, treated with pure insulin. However, these dogs developed a fatty liver and died. Unlike pure insulin, the total pancreatic extract contained a substance that prevented fatty liver: a lipotropic substance identified later as being choline [25]. Like other lipotropes, (methionine, folate, B12) choline supports transmethylation reactions, of a variety of substrates, that would change their cellular fate, or action, after methylation. In the particular case concerned here, the removal of triglycerides from the liver, as very low-density lipoprotein particles (VLDL), requires the synthesis of lecithin, which might decrease if choline and S-adenosyl methionine (SAM) are missing. Hence, a choline deficient diet decreases the removal of triglycerides from the liver; a fatty liver and tumors may then form. In sum, we have seen that pathways exemplified by the insulin-tyrosine kinase signaling pathway, which control anabolic processes, mitosis, growth and cell death, are at each step targets for oncogenes; we now find that insulin may also provoke fatty liver and cancer, when choline is not associated to insulin.

We must now find how the lipotropic methyl donor controls the signaling pathway. We know that after the tyrosine kinase reaction, serine-threonine kinases take over along the signaling route. It is thus highly probable that serine-threonine phosphatases will counteract the kinases and limit the intensity of the insulin or insulin like signals. One of the phosphatases involved is PP2A, itself the target of DNA viral oncogenes (Polyoma or SV40 antigens react with PP2A subunits and cause tumors). We found a possible link between the PP2A phosphatase brake and choline in works on Alzheimer’s disease [26]. Indeed, the catalytic C subunit of PP2A is associated to a structural subunit A. When C receives a methyle, the dimer recruits a regulatory subunit B. The trimer then targets specific proteins that are dephosphorylated [27].

In Alzheimer’s disease, the poor methylation of PP2A is associated to an increase of homocysteine in the blood [26]. The result of the PP2A methylation failure is a hyperphosphorylation of Tau protein and the formation of tangles in the brain. Tau protein is involved in tubulin polymerization, controlling axonal flow but also the mitotic spindle. It is thus possible that choline, via SAM, methylates PP2A, which is targeted toward the serine-threonine kinases that are counteracted along the insulin-signaling pathway. The choline dependent methylation of PP2A is the brake, the “antidote”, which limits “the poison” resulting from an excess of insulin signaling. Moreover, it seems that choline deficiency is involved in the L to M2 transition of PK isoenzymes [28].

3. Cellular distribution of PP2A

In fact, the negative regulation of Ras/MAP kinase signals mediated by PP2A phosphatase seems to be complex. The serine-threonine phosphatase does more than simply counteracting kinases; it binds to the intermediate Shc protein on the signaling cascade, which is inhibited [29]. The targeting of PP2A towards proteins of the signaling pathway depends of the assembly of the different holoenzymes. The carboxyl methylation of C-terminal leucine 309 of the catalytic C unit, permits to a dimeric form made of C and a structural unit A, to recruit one of the many regulatory units B, giving a great diversity of possible enzymes and effects. The different methylated ABC trimers would then find specific targets. It is consequently essential to have more information on methyl transferases and methyl esterases that control the assembly or disassembly of PP2A trimeric forms.

A specific carboxyl methyltransferase for PP2A [30] was purified and shown to be essential for normal progression through mitosis [31]. In addition, a specific methylesterase that demethylates PP2A has been purified [32]. Is seems that the methyl esterase cancels the action of PP2A, on signaling kinases that increase in glioma [33]. Evidently, the cellular localization of the methyl transferase (LCMT-1) and the phosphatase methyl esterase (PME-1) are crucial for controlling PP2A methylation and targeting. Apparently, LCMT-1 mainly localizes to the cytoplasm and not in the nucleus, where PME-1 is present, and the latter harbors a nuclear localization signal [34]. From these observations, one may suggest that PP2A gets its methyles in the cytoplasm and regulates the tyrosine kinase-signaling pathway, attenuating its effects.

A methylation deficit should then decrease the methylation of PP2A and boost the mitotic insulin signals as discussed above for choline deficiency, steatosis and hepatoma. At the nucleus, where PME-1 is present, it will remove the methyl, from PP2A, favoring the formation of dimeric AC species that have different targets, presumably proteins involved in the cell cycle. It is interesting to quote here the structural mechanism associated to the demethylation of PP2A. The crystal structures of PME-1 alone or in complex with PP2A dimeric core was reported [35] PME-1 binds directly to the active site of PP2A and this rearranges the catalytic triad of PME-1 into an active conformation that should demethylate PP2A, but this also seems to evict a manganese required for the phosphatase activity. Hence, demethylation and inactivation would take place in parallel, blocking mitotic actions.

However, another player is here involved, the so-called PTPA protein, which is a PP2A phosphatase activator. Apparently, this activator is a new type of cis/trans of prolyl isomerase, acting on Pro190 of the catalytic C unit isomerized in presence of Mg-ATP [36], which would then cancel the inactivation mediated by PME-1. Following the PTPA action, the demethylated phosphatase would become active again in the nucleus, and stimulate cell cycle proteins [37,38] inducing mitosis. Unfortunately, the ligand of this new prolyl isomerase is still unknown. Moreover, we have to consider that other enzymes such as cytochrome P450 have also demethylation properties.

In spite of deficient methylations and choline dehydrogenase pathway, tumor cells display an enhanced choline kinase activity, associated to a parallel synthesis of lecithin and triglycerides.

The hypothesis to consider is that triglycerides change the fate of methylated PP2A, by targeting it to the nucleus, there a methylesterase demethylates it; the phosphatase attacks new targets such as cell cycle proteins, inducing mitosis. Moreover, the phosphatase action on nuclear membrane proteins may render the nuclear membrane permeable to SAM the general methyl donor; promoters get methylated inducing epigenetic changes.

The relative decrease of methylated PP2A in the cytosol, not only cancels the brake over the signaling kinases, but also favors the inactivation of PK and PDH, which remain phosphorylated, contributing to the metabolic anomaly of tumor cells.

In order to prevent tumors, one should then favor the methylation route rather than the phosphorylation route for choline metabolism. This would decrease triglycerides, promote the methylation of PP2A and keep it in the cytosol, reestablishing the brake over signaling kinases.

Hypoxia is an essential issue to discuss

Many adequate “adult proteins” replace their fetal isoform: muscle proteins utrophine, switches to dystrophine; enzymes such as embryonic M2 PK [39] is replaced by M1. Hypoxic conditions seem to trigger back the expression of the fetal gene packet via HIF1-Von-Hippel signals. The mechanism would depend of a double switch since not all fetal genes become active after hypoxia. First, the histones have to be in an acetylated form, opening the way to transcription factors, this depends either of histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibition or of histone acetyltransferase (HAT) activation, and represents the main switch. Second, a more specific switch must be open, indicating the adult/fetal gene couple concerned, or more generally the isoform of a given gene that is more adapted to the specific situation. When the adult gene mutates, an unbound ligand may indeed indicate, directly or indirectly, the particular fetal copy gene to reactivate [40]. In anoxia, lactate is more difficult to release against its external gradient, leading to a cytosolic increase of up-stream glycolytic products, 3P glycerate or others. These products may then be a second signal controlling the specific switch for triggering the expression of fetal genes, such as fetal hemoglobin or the embryonic M2 PK; this takes place if histones (main switch) are in an acetylated form.

Growth hormone-IGF actions, the control of asymmetrical mitosis

When IGF – Growth hormone operate, the fatty acid source of acetyl CoA takes over. Indeed, GH stimulates a triglyceride lipase in adipocytes, increasing the release of fatty acids and their β oxidation. In parallel, GH would close the glycolytic source of acetyl CoA, perhaps inhibiting the hexokinase interaction with the mitochondrial ANT site. This effect, which renders apoptosis possible, does not occur in tumor cells. GH mobilizes the fatty acid source of acetyl CoA from adipocytes, which should help the formation of ketone bodies, but since citrate synthase activity is elevated in tumors, ketone bodies do not form.

Compounds for correcting tumor metabolism

The figure figure1 indicates interrupted and enhanced metabolic pathways in tumor cells.

In table table1,1, the numbered pathways represent possible therapeutic targets; they cover several enzymes. When the activity of the pathway is increased, one may give inhibitors; when the activity of the pathway decreases, we propose possible activators

Table - metabolic  targets

Table 1 Mol Cancer. 2011; 10 70. Published online Jun 7, 2011. doi  10.1186_1476-4598-10-70

The origin of Cancers by means of metabolic selection

The disruption of cells by internal or external compounds, releases substrates stimulating the tyrosine kinase signals for anabolism proliferation and stem cell repair, like for most oncogenes. If such signals are not limited, there is a parallel blockade of key metabolic enzymes by activated kinases or inhibited phosphatases. The result is a metabolism typical of tumor cells, which gives them a selective advantage; stabilized by epigenetic changes. A proliferation process, in which the two daughter cells divide, increases the tumor mass at the detriment of the body. Inevitable mutations follow.

Maurice Israël, et al. Mol Cancer. 2011;10:70-70.
Transcriptomics and Regulatory Processes

What are lncRNAs?

It was traditionally thought that the transcriptome would be mostly comprised of mRNAs, however advances in high-throughput RNA sequencing technologies have revealed the complexity of our genome. Non-coding RNA is now known to make up the majority of transcribed RNAs and in addition to those that carry out well-known housekeeping functions (e.g. tRNA, rRNA etc), many different types of regulatory RNAs have been and continue to be discovered.

Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are a large and diverse class of transcribed RNA molecules with a length of more than 200 nucleotides that do not encode proteins. Their expression is developmentally regulated and lncRNAs can be tissue- and cell-type specific. A significant proportion of lncRNAs are located exclusively in the nucleus. They are comprised of many types of transcripts that can structurally resemble mRNAs, and are sometimes transcribed as whole or partial antisense transcripts to coding genes. LncRNAs are thought to carry out important regulatory functions, adding yet another layer of complexity to our understanding of genomic regulation.

lncRNA-s   A summary of the various functions described for lncRNA


The evolution of genome-scale models of cancer metabolism
The importance of metabolism in cancer is becoming increasingly apparent with the identification of metabolic enzyme mutations and the growing awareness of the influence of metabolism on signaling, epigenetic markers, and transcription. However, the complexity of these processes has challenged our ability to make sense of the metabolic changes in cancer. Fortunately, constraint-based modeling, a systems biology approach, now enables one to study the entirety of cancer metabolism and simulate basic phenotypes. With the newness of this field, there has been a rapid evolution of both the scope of these models and their applications. (NE Lewis and AM.Abdel-Haleem. frontiers physiol  2013;4(237): 1

Here we review the various constraint-based models built for cancer metabolism and how their predictions are shedding new light on basic cancer phenotypes, elucidating pathway differences between tumors, and discovering putative anti-cancer targets. As the field continues to evolve, the scope of these genome-scale cancer models must expand beyond central metabolism to address questions related to the diverse processes contributing to tumor development and metastasis.

“One of the goals of cancer research is to ascertain the mechanisms of cancer.”These words, penned by Dulbecco (1986), began a treatise on how a mechanistic understanding of cancer requires a sequenced human genome. Now with the abundance of sequence data, we are finding diverse genetic changes among different cancers (Vogelstein et al.,2013). While we are cataloging these mutations, the associated mechanisms leading to phenotypic changes are often unclear since mutations occur in the context of complex biological networks. For example, mutations to isocitrate dehydrogenase lead to oncometabolite synthesis, which alters DNA methylation and ultimately changes gene expression and the balance of normal cell processes (Sasakietal.,2012). Furthermore, many different combinations of mutations can lead to cancer. Since the genetic heterogeneity between tumors can be large, the biomolecular mechanisms underlying tumor physiology can vary substantially.

This is apparent in metabolism, where tumors can differ in serine metabolism  dependence (Possematoetal., 2011) or TCA cycle function (Frezzaetal., 2011b). In addition, diverse mutations can alter NADPH synthesis by differentially regulat ing  signaling pathways, such as the AMPK pathway (Cairnsetal., 2011; Jeonetal., 2012). The challenges regarding complexity and heterogeneity in cancer metabolism are beginning to be addressed with the COnstraint-Based Reconstruction and Analysis (COBRA) approach (Hernández Patiñoetal., 2012; Sharma and König,  2013), an emerging field in systems biology.Specifically, it accounts for the complexity of the perturbed biochemical processes by using genome-scale metabolic network reconstructions (Duarteetal., 2007; Maetal., 2007;Thieleetal., 2013).

In a reconstruction, the stoichiometric chemical reactions in a cell are carefully annotated and stitched together into a large network, often containing thousands of reactions. Genes and enzymes associated with each reaction are also delineated. The networks are converted into computational models and analyzed using many algorithms (Lewisetal., 2012). COBRA approaches are also beginning to address heterogeneity in cancer by integrating experimental data with the reconstructions (Blazier and Papin, 2012; Hydukeetal., 2013)  to tailor the models to the unique gene expression profiles of general cancer tissue, and even individual cell lines and tumors. Here we describe the recent conceptual evolution that has occurred for constraint-based cancer modeling.

Targeting of  gene expression

Tumor Suppressor Genes and its Implications in Human Cancer

Gain-of-function mutations in oncogenes and loss-of-function mutations in tumor suppressor genes (TSG) lead to cancer. In most human cancers, these mutations occur in somatic tissues. However, hereditary forms of cancer exist for which individuals are heterozygous for a germline mutation in a TSG locus at birth. The second allele is frequently inactivated by gene deletion, point mutation, or promoter methylation in classical TSGs that meet Knudson’s two-hit hypothesis. Conversely, the second allele remains as wild-type, even in tumors in which the gene is haplo-insufficient for tumor suppression. (K Inoue, EA Fry and Pj Taneja. Recent Progress in Mouse Models for Tumor Suppressor Genes and its Implications in Human Cancer. Clinical Medicine Insights: Oncology2013:7 103–122). This article highlights the importance of PTEN, APC, and other tumor suppressors for counteracting aberrant PI3K, β-catenin, and other oncogenic signaling pathways. We discuss the use of gene-engineered mouse models (GEMM) of human cancer focusing on Pten and Apc knockout mice that recapitulate key genetic events involved in initiation and progression of human neoplasia.

Targeting cancer metabolism – aiming at a tumour’s sweet-spot
Neil P. Jones and Almut Schulze
Drug Discovery Today   January 2012

Targeting cancer metabolism has emerged as a hot topic for drug discovery. Most cancers have a high demand for metabolic inputs (i.e. glucose/glutamine), which aid proliferation and survival. Interest in targeting cancer metabolism has been renewed in recent years with the discovery that many cancer related (e.g. oncogenic and tumor suppressor) pathways have a profound effect on metabolism and that many tumors become dependent on specific metabolic processes. Considering the recent increase in our understanding of cancer metabolism and the increasing knowledge of the enzymes and pathways involved, the question arises: could metabolism be cancer’s Achilles heel?
During recent years, interest into the possible therapeutic benefit of targeting metabolic pathways in cancer has increased dramatically with academic and pharmaceutical groups actively pursuing this aspect of tumor physiology. Therefore, what has fuelled this revived interest in targeting cancer metabolism and what are the major advances and potential challenges faced in the race to develop new therapeutics in this area? This review will attempt to answer these questions and illustrate why we, and others, believe that targeting metabolism in cancer presents such a promising therapeutic rationale.

Oncogenes and cancer metabolism
Glycolysis  TCA cycle  Pentose phosphate pathway


Schematic representation of the regulation of cancer metabolism pathways. Metabolic enzymes are regulated by signaling pathways involving oncogenes and tumor suppressors. Complex regulatory mechanisms, key pathway interactions and enzymes are shown along with key metabolic endpoints (shown in purple) necessary for proliferation and survival (biosynthetic intermediates and NADPH). Key oncogenic pathways are shown in green and key tumor suppressor pathways are shown in red. Mutant IDH (mIDH) pathway is listed but is only functional in cancers containing mIDH.


Schematic representation of key components of the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP). Key enzymes are shown in blue boxes and key intermediates in purple text/box outline. DNA damage can activate ATM which in turn activates G6PDH to upregulate nucleotide synthesis for DNA repair and NAPDH to combat reactive oxygen species. PPP is also regulated by the tumour suppressor p53. The PPP can function as two separate branches (oxidative and non-oxidative) or be coupled into a recycling pathway – the pentose phosphate shunt – for maximum NADPH production.

Serine biosynthesis

Another branch diverting from glycolysis recently implicated in cancer is the serine biosynthesis pathway which converts the glycolytic intermediate 3-phosphoglycerate into serine (Fig. 3). Serine is an amino acid and an important neurotransmitter but can also provide fuel for the synthesis of other amino acids and nucleotides. The serine biosynthesis pathway also provides another key metabolic intermediate, a-KG, from glutamate breakdown via the action of phosphoserine aminotransferase (PSAT1). This pathway couples glycolysis (via 3-phosphoglycerate) with glutaminolysis (via glutamate), thereby linking two metabolic pathways known to be activated in many cancers.


Schematic representation of the serine biosynthesis pathway. Synthesis of serine involves integration of metabolites from glycolysis and  glutaminolysis pathways  and generates a-ketoglutarate, a key biosynthetic intermediate, and serine. Serine has many essential uses in the cell including amino acid, phospholipid and nucleotide synthesis.


Silencing of tumor suppressor genes by recruiting DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1)

Ubiquitin-like containing PHD and Ring finger 1 (UHRF1) contributes to silencing of tumor suppressorgenes by recruiting DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) to their hemi-methylated promoters. Conversely,demethylation of these promoters has been ascribed to the natural anti-cancer drug, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). The aim of the present study was to investigate whether the UHRF1/DNMT1 pair is an important target of EGCG action.  (Mayada Achour, et al. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate up-regulates tumor suppressor gene expression via a reactive oxygen species-dependent down-regulation of UHRF1.  Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 430 (2013) 208–212.

Here, we show that EGCG down-regulates UHRF1 and DNMT1 expression in Jurkat cells, with subsequent up-regulation of p73 and p16INK4A genes. The down-regulation of UHRF1 is dependent upon the generation of reactive oxygen species by EGCG. Up-regulation of p16INK4A  is strongly correlated with decreased promoter binding by UHRF1. UHRF1 over-expression counteracted EGCG-induced G1-arrested cells, apoptosis, and up-regulation of p16INK4A and p73. Mutants of the Set and Ring Associated (SRA) domain of UHRF1 were unable to down-regulate p16INK4A and p73, either in the presence or absence of EGCG. Our results show that down-regulation of UHRF1 is upstream to many cellular events, including G1 cell arrest, up-regulation of tumor suppressor genes and apoptosis.

Tumor Suppressor Activity of a Constitutively-Active ErbB4 Mutant

ErbB4 (HER4) is a member of the ErbB family of receptor tyrosine kinases, which includes the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR/ErbB1), ErbB2 (HER2/Neu), and ErbB3 (HER3). Mounting evidence indicates that ErbB4, unlike EGFR or ErbB2, functions as a tumor suppressor in many human malignancies. Previous analyses of the constitutively-dimerized and –active ErbB4 Q646C mutant indicate that ErbB4 kinase activity and phosphorylation of ErbB4 Tyr1056 are both required for the tumor suppressor activity of this mutant in human breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer cell lines. However, the cytoplasmic region of ErbB4 possesses additional putative functional motifs, and the contributions of these functional motifs to ErbB4 tumor suppressor activity have been largely underexplored.  (Citation: Richard M. Gallo, et al. (2013) Multiple Functional Motifs Are Required for the Tumor Suppressor Activity of a Constitutively-Active ErbB4 Mutant. J Cancer Res Therap Oncol 1: 1-10)

Here we demonstrate that ErbB4 BH3 and LXXLL motifs, which are thought to mediate interactions with Bcl family proteins and steroid hormone receptors, respectively, are required for the tumor suppressor activity of the ErbB4 Q646C mutant. Furthermore, abrogation of the site of ErbB4 cleavage by gamma-secretase also disrupts the tumor suppressor activity of the ErbB4 Q646C mutant. This last result suggests that ErbB4 cleavage and subcellular trafficking of the ErbB4 cytoplasmic domain may be required for the tumor suppressor activity of the ErbB4 Q646C mutant. Indeed, here we demonstrate that mutants that disrupt ErbB4 kinase activity, ErbB4 phosphorylation at Tyr1056, or ErbB4 cleavage by gamma-secretase also disrupt ErbB4 trafficking away from the plasma membrane and to the cytoplasm. This supports a model for ErbB4 function in which ErbB4 tumor suppressor activity is dependent on ErbB4 trafficking away from the plasma membrane and to the cytoplasm, mitochondria, and/or the nucleus.

EGF Receptor

 Initiation of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is definitively linked to activating mutations in the KRAS oncogene. However, PDA mouse models show that mutant Kras expression early in development gives rise to a normal pancreas, with tumors forming only after a long latency or pancreatitis induction.

(CM Ardito,BM Gruner. ,EGF Receptor Is Required for KRAS-Induced Pancreatic Tumorigenesis.

Here, we show that oncogenic KRAS upregulates endogenous EGFR expression and activation, the latter being dependent on the EGFR ligand sheddase, ADAM17. Genetic ablation or pharmacological inhibition of EGFR or ADAM17 effectively eliminates KRAS-driven tumorigenesis in vivo. Without EGFR activity, active RAS levels are not sufficient to induce robust MEK/ERK activity, a requirement for epithelial transformation

The almost universal lethality of PDA has led to the intense study of genetic mutations responsible for its formation and progression. The most common oncogenic mutations associated with all PDA stages are found in the KRAS gene, suggesting it as the primary initiator of pancreatic neoplasia. However, mutant Kras expression throughout the mouse pancreatic parenchyma shows that the oncogene remains largely indolent until secondary events, such as pancreatitis, unlock its transforming potential. We find KRAS requires an inside-outside-in signaling axis that involves ligand-dependent EGFR activation to initiate the signal transduction and cell biological changes that link PDA and pancreatitis. (Cancer Cell (2012); 22: 304–317).

HER4 (EGFR/ErbB, HER2/Neu, HER3)

 ErbB4 (HER4) is a member of the ErbB family of receptor tyrosine kinases, which includes the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR/ErbB1), ErbB2 (HER2/Neu), and ErbB3 (HER3). Mounting evidence indicates that ErbB4, unlike EGFR or ErbB2, functions as a tumor suppressor in many human malignancies. Previous analyses of the constitutively-dimerized and –active ErbB4 Q646C mutant indicate that ErbB4 kinase activity and phosphorylation of ErbB4 Tyr1056 are both required for the tumor suppressor activity of this mutant in human breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer cell lines. However, the cytoplasmic region of ErbB4 possesses additional putative functional motifs, and the contributions of these functional motifs to ErbB4 tumor suppressor activity have been largely underexplored.

ErbB4 Possesses Multiple Functional Motifs and Mutations Have Been Engineered to Target These Motifs.

The organization of ErbB4 is as indicated in this schematic. The extracellular ligand-binding motifs reside in the amino-terminal region upstream of amino acid residue 651. The singlepass transmembrane domain consists of amino acid residues 652-675. The cytoplasmic tyrosine kinase domain consists of amino acid residues 713-989. The majority of cytoplasmic sites of tyrosine phosphorylation reside in amino acid residues 990-1308, most notably Tyr1056. Additional putative functional motifs include a TACE cleavage site, a gamma-secretase cleavage site, two LXXLL (steroid hormone receptor binding) motifs, a BH3 domain, three WW domain binding motifs, and a PDZ domain binding motif. Mutations that disrupt these motifs are noted. Finally, note the two locations of alternative transcriptional splicing, resulting in a total of four different splicing isoforms.




Here we demonstrate that ErbB4 BH3 and LXXLL motifs, which are thought to mediate interactions with Bcl family proteins and steroid hormone receptors, respectively, are required for the tumor suppressor activity of the ErbB4 Q646C mutant. Furthermore, abrogation of the site of ErbB4 cleavageby gamma-secretase also disrupts the tumor suppressor activity of the ErbB4 Q646C mutant. This last result suggests that ErbB4 cleavage and subcellular trafficking of the ErbB4 cytoplasmic domain may be required for the tumor suppressor activity of the ErbB4 Q646C mutant. Indeed, here we demonstrate that mutants that disrupt ErbB4 kinase activity, ErbB4 phosphorylation at Tyr1056, or ErbB4 cleavage by gamma-secretase also disrupt ErbB4 trafficking away from the plasma membrane and to the cytoplasm. This supports a model for ErbB4 function in which ErbB4 tumor suppressor activity is dependent on ErbB4 trafficking away from the plasma membrane and to the cytoplasm, mitochondria, and/or the nucleus.

(Richard M. Gallo, et al. (2013) Multiple Functional Motifs Are Required for the Tumor Suppressor Activity of a Constitutively-Active ErbB4 Mutant. J Cancer Res Therap Oncol 1: 1-10)

Resistance to Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Inhibition

Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) are activated by somatic genetic alterations in a subset of cancers, and such cancers are often sensitive to specific inhibitors of the activated kinase. Two well-established examples of this paradigm include lung cancers with either EGFR mutations or ALK translocations. In these cancers, inhibition of the corresponding RTK leads to suppression of key downstream signaling pathways, such as the PI3K (phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase)/AKT and MEK (mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase)/ERK (extracellular signal–regulated kinase) pathways, resulting in cell growth arrest and death. Despite the initial clinical efficacy of ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase) and EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) inhibitors in these cancers, resistance invariably develops, typically within 1 to 2 years. (MJ Niederst and JA Engelman. Sci Signal, 24 Sep 2013; 6(294), p. re6 .

Over the past several years, multiple molecular mechanisms of resistance have been identified, and some common themes have emerged. One is the development of resistance mutations in the drug target that prevent the drug from effectively inhibiting the respective RTK. A second is activation of alternative RTKs that maintain the signaling of key downstream pathways despite sustained inhibition of the original drug target. Indeed, several different RTKs have been implicated in promoting resistance to EGFR and ALK inhibitors in both laboratory studies and patient samples. In this mini-review, we summarize the concepts underlying RTK-mediated resistance, the specific examples known to date, and the challenges of applying this knowledge to develop improved therapeutic strategies to prevent or overcome resistance.

The TGF-β Pathway

Aberrations in the enzymes that modify ubiquitin moieties have been observed to cause a myriad of diseases, including cancer. Therefore a better understanding of these enzymes and their substrates will lead to the identification of prospective druggable targets. Here we discuss the role of ubiquitin modifying enzymes in the canonical TGF-β pathway highlighting the ubiquitin regulating enzymes, which may potentially be targeted by small molecule inhibitors. (Pieter Eichhorn. (DE) -Ubiquitination in The TGF-β Pathway. J Cancer Res Therap Oncol 2013; 1: 1-6).

TGF-β is a multifunctional cytokine that plays a key role in embryogenesis and adult tissue homoeostasis. TGF-β is secreted by a myriad of cell types triggering a varied array of cellular functions including apoptosis, proliferation, migration, endothelial and mesenchymal transition, and extracellular matrix production. Downstream TGFβ responses can also be modulated by other signalling pathways (i.e. PI3K, ERK, WNT, etc.) resulting in a complex web of TGF-β pathway activation or repression depending on the nature of the signal and cellular context. Apart from TGF-β mediated cell autonomous effects TGF-β can further play an important function in regulating tumour microenvironments effecting the interaction between stromal fibroblasts and tumour cells.
Due to the central role of TGF-β in cellular processes it is therefore unsurprising that loss of TGF-β pathway integrity is frequently observed in a variety of human diseases, including cancer. However, the TGF-β pathway plays a complex dual role in cancer. In normal epithelial cells and premalignant cells TGF-β acts a potent tumor suppressor eliciting a cytostatic response inhibiting tumor progression. Supporting this notion, inactivating mutations in members of the TGF-βpathway have been observed in a variety of cancers including pancreatic, colorectal, and head and neck cancer.

In contrast, during tumor progression the TGF-β antiproliferative function is lost, and in certain advanced cancers TGF-β becomes an oncogenic factor inducing cellular proliferation, invasion, angiogenesis, and immune suppression. As a consequence, the TGFβ pathway is currently considered a therapeutic target in advanced cancers and several anti- TGF-β agents in clinical trials have shown promising results. However, due to the complex dichotomous role of TGF-β in oncogenesis a detailed understanding of TGF-β biology is required in order to design successful therapeutic strategies to identify patient populations that will benefit most from these compounds.

G protein receptor

 G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) modulate a vast array of cellular processes. The current review gives an overview of the general characteristics of GPCRs and their role in physiological conditions. In addition, it describes the current knowledge of the physiological and pathophysiological functions of GPR55, an orphan GPCR, and how it can be exploited as a therapeutic target to combat various cancers.

(D Leyva-Illades, S DeMorrow . Orphan G protein receptor GPR55 as an emerging target in cancer therapy and management.  Cancer Management and Research 2013:5 147–155)

Signal transduction is essential for maintaining cellular homeostasis and to coordinate the activity of cells in all organisms. Proteins localized in the cell membrane serve as the interface between the outside and inside of the cell. G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest and most diverse group of membrane receptors in eukaryotes and are encoded by at least 800 genes in the human genome. GPCRs are also known as seven-transmembrane domain receptors, 7TM receptors, heptahelical receptors, serpentine receptors, and G protein-linked receptors. GPCRs can detect an expansive array of extracellular signals or ligands that include photons, ions, odors, pheromones, hormones, and neurotransmitters. Nonsensory GPCRs (excluding light, odor, and taste receptors) have been classified into four families: class A rhodopsin-like, class B secretin-like, class C metabotropic glutamate/pheromone, and frizzled receptors. They have a peculiar structure that has been highly conserved over the course of evolution and are made up of an amino acid chain, the N-terminal of which is localized outside of the cellular membrane and the C-terminal in the cytoplasm. The amino acid chain spans the cellular membrane seven times and has three intracellular and three extracellular loops.

GPCRs are called that because they exert their actions by associating with a family of heterotrimeric proteins (made up of α, β, and γ subunits) that are capable of binding and hydrolyzing guanosine triphosphate (GTP).To date, 16 different α subunits, five β subunits, and 11 γ subunits have been described in mammalian tissues. When activated, these receptors undergo conformational changes that are mechanically transduced to the G proteins, which then initiate a cycle of activation and inactivationassociated with the binding and hydrolysis of GTP. Activated G proteins can then positively or negatively modulate ion channels (mainly potassium and calcium) or the second messenger generating enzymes (ie, adenylate cyclase and phospholipase C [PLC]) that allow the signal to be propagated to the interior of the cell to ultimately affect cell function.

 Matrix Metalloproteinases

Degradation of extracellular matrix is crucial for malignant tumour growth, invasion, metastasis and angiogenesis. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are a family of zinc-dependent neutral endopeptidases collectively capable of degrading essentially all  components of the ECM. Elevated levels of distinct MMPs can be detected in tumour tissue or serumof patients with advanced cancer and their role as prognostic indicators in cancer is studied. In addition, therapeutic intervention of tumour growth and invasion based on inhibition of MMP activity is under intensive investigation and several MMP inhibitors are in clinical trials in cancer. In this review, we discuss the current view on the feasibility of MMPs as prognostic markers and as targets for therapeutic intervention in cancer.


Pia Vihinen and Veli-Matti Kahari.  Int. J. Cancer 2002;99: 157–166.

Common properties of the MMPs include the requirement of zinc in their catalytic site for activity and their synthesis as inactive zymogens that generally need to be proteolytically cleaved to be active. Normally the MMPs are expressed only when and where needed for tissue remodeling accompanies various processes such as during embryonic development, wound healing, uterine and mammary involution, cartilage-to-bone transition during ossification, and trophoblast invasion into the endometrial stoma during placenta development. However, aberrant expression of various MMPs has been correlated with pathological conditions, such as periodontitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and tumor cell invasion and metastasis .

There are now over 20 members of the MMP family, and they can be subgrouped based on their structures. The minimal domain structure consists of a signal peptide, prodomain, and catalytic domain. The propeptide domain contains a conserved cysteine residue (the “cysteine switch”) that coordinates to the catalytic zinc to maintain inactivity. MMPs with only the minimal domain are referred to as matrilysins (MMP-7 and -26). The most common structures for secreted MMPs, including collagenases and stromelysins, have an additional hemopexin-like domain connected by a hinge region to the catalytic domain (MMP-1, -3, -8, -10, -12, -13, -19, and -20).

Terms: 1FN, fibronectin; 2M, 2-macroglobulin; 1PI, 1-proteinase inhibitor; COMP, cartilage oligomeric matrix protein; ND, not determined; TACE, TNF-converting enzyme; OP, osteopontin

FIGURE 1 – Structure of human matrix metalloproteinases


FIGURE 1 – Structure of human matrix metalloproteinases. The signal peptide directs the proenzyme for secretion. The propeptide contains a conserved sequence (PRCGxPD), in which the cysteine forms a covalent bond (cysteine switch), with the catalytic zinc (Zn2_) to maintain the latency of proMMPs. Catalytic domain contains the highly conserved zinc binding site (HExGHxxGxxHS) in which Zn2_is coordinated by 3 histidines. The proline-rich hinge region links the catalytic domain to the hemopexin domain, which determines the substrate specificity of specific MMPs. The hemopexin domain is absent in matrilysin (MMP-7) and matrilysin-2 (endometase, MMP-26). Gelatinases  A and B (MMP-2 and MMP-9, respectively) contain 3 repeats of the fibronectin-type II domain inserted in the catalytic domain. MT1-, MT2-, MT3- and MT5-MMP contain a transmembrane domain and MT4- and MT6-MMPs contain a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor in the C-terminus of the molecule, which attach these MMPs to the cell surface. MT-MMPs, MMP-11, MMP-23 and MMP-28 contain a furin cleavage site (RxKR) between the propeptide and catalytic domain, making these proenzymes susceptible to activation by intracellular furin convertases. MMP-23 contains an N-terminal signal anchor, which anchors proMMP-23 to the Golgi complex and has a different C-terminal domain instead of hemopexin-like domain.

The physiologic expression of MMP-13 in vivo is limited to situations, such as fetal bone development and fetal wound repair, in which rapid remodeling of collagenous ECM is required. MMP-13 is expressed in pathologic conditions, such as arthritis, chronic dermal and intestinal ulcers, chronic periodontal inflammation and atherosclerotic plaques. The expression of MMP-13 is detected in vivo in invasive malignant tumours, breast carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) of the head and neck and vulva, malignant melanomas, chondrosarcomas and urinary bladder carcinomas.

Table I. Human MMPS, their chromosomal localization, substrates, exogenous activators, and activating capacity1
Enzyme Chromosomal location Substrates Activated by Activator of
  • FN, fibronectin; 2M, 2-macroglobulin; 1PI, 1-proteinase inhibitor; COMP, cartilage oligomeric matrix protein; ND, not determined; TACE, TNF-converting enzyme; OP, osteopontin.


 Collagenase-1 (MMP-1) 11q22.2-22.3 Collagen I, II, III, VII, VIII, X, aggregan, serpins, 2M MMP-3, -7, -10, plasmin kallikrein, chymase MMP-2
 Collagenase-2 (MMP-8) 11q22.2-22.3 Collagen I, II, III, aggregan, serpins, 2M MMP-3, -10, plasmin ND
 Collagenase-3 (MMP-13) 11q22.2-22.3 Collagen I, II, III, IV, IX, X, XIV, gelatin, FN, laminin, large tenascin aggrecan, fibrillin, osteonectin, serpins MMP-2, -3, -10, -14, -15, plasmin MMP-2, -9
 Stromelysin-1 (MMP-3) 11q22.2-22.3 Collagen IV, V, IX, X, FN, elastin, gelatin, laminin, aggrecan, nidoge fibrillin*, osteonectin*, 1PI*, myelin basic protein*, OP, E-cadherin Plasmin, kallikrein, chymas tryptase MMP-1, -8, -9, -13
 Stromelysin-2 (MMP-10) 11q22.2-3 As MMP-3, except * Elastase, cathepsin G MMP-1, -7, -8, -9, -13
Stromelysin-like MMPs
 Stromelysin-3 (MMP-11) 22q11.2 Serine proteinase inhibitors, 1PI Furin ND
 Metalloelastase (MMP-12) 11q22.2-22.3 Collagen IV, gelatin, FN, laminin, vitronectin, elastin, fibrillin, 1-PI, myelin basic protein, apolipoprotein A ND ND
 Matrilysin (MMP-7) 11q22.2-22.3 Elastin, FN, laminin, nidogen, collagen IV, tenascin, versican, 1PI, O E-cadherin, TNF- MMP-3, plasmin MMP-9
 Matrilysin-2 (MMP-26) 11q22.2 Gelatin, 1PI, synthetic MMP-substrates, TACE-substrate ND ND
 Gelatinase A (MMP-2) 16q13 Gelatin, collagen I, IV, V, VII, X, FN, tenascin, fibrillin, osteonectin, Monocyte chemoattractant protein 3 MMP-1, -13, -14, -15, -16, -tryptase? MMP-9, -13
 Gelatinase B (MMP-9) 20q12-13 Gelatin, collagen IV, V, VII, XI, XIV, elastin, fibrillin, osteonectin 2 MMP-2, -3, 7, -13, plasmin, trypsin, chymotrypsin, cathepsin G ND
Membrane-type MMPs
 MT1-MMP (MMP-14) 14q12.2 Collagen I, II, III, gelatin, FN, laminin, vitronectin, aggrecan, tenasci nidogen, perlecan, fibrillin, 1PI, 2M, fibrin Plasmin, furin MMP-2, -13
 MT2-MMP (MMP-15) 16q12.2 FN, laminin, aggrecan, tenascin, nidogen, perlecan ND MMP-2, -13


MMP expression and activity are regulated at several levels. In most cases, MMPs are not synthesized until needed. Transcription can be induced by various signals including cytokines, growth factors, and mechanical stress. In certain cases, regulation of mRNA stability and translational efficiencyhave been reported. Because most MMPs are secreted as inactive zymogens, they need to be activated, usually by proteolytic cleavage of their NH2-terminal prodomains. Some MMPs are activated by other serine proteases such as plasmin and furin, whereas some of the MMPs can activate other members of their family. The most well characterized is the activation of pro-MMP-2 by MT1-MMP.

A number of MMPs have been strongly implicated in multiple stages of cancer progression including the acquisition of invasive and metastatic properties. Thus, efforts have been made for the past 20 years to develop MMPIs that can be used to halt the spread of cancer, which is what ultimately kills the person. However, initial clinical trials using first generation MMPIs proved to be disappointing . In the ensuing years, much has been learned about the roles of specific MMPs in the different processes of carcinogenesis and more specific MMPIs are being developed and brought to clinical trials.

However, the dosing and scheduling for optimal efficacy is not the same as required for conventional cytotoxic drugs because the MMPIs do not directly kill cancer cells, but instead target such processes as angiogenesis (the development of new blood vessels), invasion, and metastatic spread. (Matrix Metalloproteinases, Angiogenesis, and Cancer. Joyce E. Rundhaug.  Commentary re: A. C. Lockhart et al., Reduction of Wound Angiogenesis in Patients Treated with BMS-275291, a Broad Spectrum Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibitor. Clin. Cancer Res., 2003; 9551–554).

 Role of p38 MAP Kinase Signal Transduction in Solid Tumors

HK Koul, M Pal, and S Koul. Genes & Cancer  2013 ; 4(9-10) 342–359. 1947601913507951

Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) mediate a wide variety of cellular behaviors in response to extracellular stimuli. One of the main subgroups, the p38 MAP kinases, has been implicated in a wide range of complex biologic processes, such as cell proliferation, cell differentiation, cell death, cell migration, and invasion. Dysregulation of p38 MAPK levels in patients are associated with advanced stages and short survival in cancer patients (e.g., prostate, breast, bladder, liver, and lung cancer). p38 MAPK plays a dual role as a regulator of cell death, and it can either mediate cell survival or cell death depending not only on the type of stimulus but also in a cell type specific manner. In addition to modulating cell survival, an essential role of p38 MAPK in modulation of cell migration and invasion offers a distinct opportunity to target this pathway with respect to tumor metastasis. The specific function of p38 MAPK appears to depend not only on the cell type but also on the stimuli and/or the isoform that is activated.

Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signal transduction pathways are evolutionarily conserved among eukaryotes and have been implicated to play key roles in a number of biological processes, including cell growth, differentiation, apoptosis, inflammation, and responses to environmental stresses.

They are typically organized in 3-tiered architecture consisting of a MAPK, a MAPK activator (MAPK kinase), and a MAPKK activator (MAPKK kinase). The MAPK pathways can be regulated at multiple levels as well as via multiple mechanisms, of which the regulation of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase (MAPKKK/MAP3K) has been proved to be the most challenging due to the great diversity and versatility between different modules at this level. The complex array of growth factors and other ligands that can initiate intracellular cell signaling requires a very high level of coordination among the different proteins involved.

GTP cyclohydrolase (GCH1)

GTP cyclohydrolase (GCH1) is the key-enzyme to produce the essential enzyme cofactor, tetrahydrobiopterin. The byproduct, neopterin is increased in advanced human cancer and used as cancer-biomarker, suggesting that pathologically increased GCH1 activity may promote tumor growth.

(G Picker, Hee-Young Lim, et al. Inhibition of GTP cyclohydrolase attenuates tumor growth by reducing angiogenesis and M2-like polarization of tumor associated macrophages. Int. J. Cancer 2003; 132: 591–604 (2013) )

We found that inhibition or silencing of GCH1 reduced tumor cell proliferation and survival and the tube formation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells, which upon hypoxia increased GCH1 and

endothelial NOS expression, the latter prevented by inhibition of GCH1. In nude mice xenografted with HT29-Luc colon cancer cells GCH1 inhibition reduced tumor growth and angiogenesis, determined by in vivo luciferase and near-infrared imaging of newly formed blood vessels. The treatment with the GCH1 inhibitor shifted the phenotype of tumor associated macrophages from the proangiogenic M2 towards M1, accompanied with a shift of plasma chemokine profiles towards tumor-attacking chemokines including CXCL10 and RANTES. GCH1 expression was increased in mouse AOM/DSS-induced colon tumors and in high grade human colon and skin cancer and oppositely, the growth of GCH1-deficient HT29-Luc tumor cells in mice was strongly reduced. The data suggest that GCH1 inhibition reduces tumor growth by (i) direct killing of tumor cells, (ii) by inhibiting angiogenesis, and (iii) by enhancing the antitumoral immune response.

The Role of Stroma in Tumour-Host Co-Existence

Molnár et al.,  The Role of Stroma in Tumour-Host Co-Existence: Some Perspectives in Stroma-Targeted Therapy of Cancer   Biochem Pharmacol 2013, 2:1

 Cancer grows at the expense of the host as a parasite or superparasite following the second law of thermodynamics (conservation of energy). When the cancer cell progresses via replication to the special state called “spheroid”, a new phase begins with its intimate interaction and development of responses from the stroma which together assist in the formation of a full blown cancer. Among the processes involved are the development of blood vessels and lymphatic channels which are essential for maintenance and further growth of the cancer mass. In this way the condition of “parasitism” is completed with simultaneous suppression of the immune response of the host to the histo-incompatability of the tumor mass. Stroma/parenchyma promotes cancer invasion by feeding cancer cells and inducing immune tolerance. The dynamic changes in composition of stroma and biological consequences as feeder of cancer cells and immune tolerance can give a perspective for rational drug design in anti-stromal therapy. There are differences between normal and cancer cells at subcellular level such as compartmentalzation and structure of cytoskeleton and energy distribution (that is low generally, but locally high in normal cells). In cancer cannibalism of normal cells, the growing cancer mass is a factor for progression and invasion.

Cancer cells have been shown to kill normal cells and the products of cell death used for progression of growth of the cancer cell. Serum and growth factors produced by tumor stroma also provide the needed nutrients and conditions for further tumor growth. Cancer cannot feed off other cancer cells and therefore grow poorly. Probably, although not yet proven, the inability of cancer to “parasitise” other cancer cell types is probably due to some kind of competition or interference. The tumor is in charge of its own development due to its induction proteinases, lipid mobilization factors and angiogenetic factors as well as its ability to negate immune responses of the host response to what is in essence a foreign body.

In our review co-existence of normal and cancer cells in tumor with the growth promoting factors, and the immune tolerance mediating factors produced in the stromal and cancer cells/tissues will be discussed with perspective of stroma targeted therapy.

The clinical significance of cell cannibalism is well defined and described in a large number of publications. The direction of process of cancer development is defined as the tumor invades the normal tissue which never occurs in the reverse direction. This suggests that the cancer cell strives to achieve the lowest energy level possible. Therefore the first of the development of a full blown cancer can be considered as the 2nd Thermodynamic principle  that explains, describes and drives the invading cancer into normal surrounding tissue.

From the normal living state, under particular conditions such as hypoxia, where ATP synthesis is decreased resulting in a switch to glycolytic pathways, cancer cells are selected from a fraction of the population [4]. Energetically, in the presence of electron transfer, by using high energy from respiration, the proliferating state is more stable than resting cells where a higher degree of protein stabilization occurs such as that needed for maintainance of the cytoskeleton of the cell. It was proposed that tumor-promotion might be controlled or modulated by small electronic currents originating from reactive oxygen species and transported through the cytoskeletal microfilament network of the cancer cell.

Aerobic glycolysis is the main energy producing process in cancer cells. Among many other aspects, recently the mitochondria have also been regarded as potential targets in the therapy of cancer. Several small molecules have been tested to restore their dysfunctional functions either by direct or indirect effects. Because of poorly functioning mitochondria, the electron transfer component of the respiration cycle is inefficient; therefore, cancer cells have smaller Gibbs energy than healthy cells. This means, that these cancer cells exists in a metastable state and are not able maintain normal cell structure.

Therefore, the cytoskeleton system is collapsed and dielectric bilayers are formed as a lower grade of cellular structure with decreased electron conductivity. Consequently, to halt cancer growth, one has to evaluate the process of cancer cell development in situ, where the primary tumor is growing as well as that of the metastatic cell that is invading surrounding or distal tissues. This affords one to suggest that the stroma is formed first during long term repeated oxidative stress, a process that is initially accompanied with inflammation due to an active immune response to the histoincompatability antigens present on the surface of the cancer cell. If the cancer cell evades the activity of killer T cells (Treg cells) by either secreting agents that reduce the response of the Treg cells or the immune system for whatever reason is ineffective (immunosuppressed states such as HIV/AIDS, pregnancy, transplantation  therapy, etc.), the formed cancer cells have the opportunity to initiate tumor development. Because of the limited capacity of its electron transfer cycle, cancer cells are essentially starving cells that require glycolytically useful substrates. These substrates are obtained from the killing of normal cells by agents secreted by the cancer cell and the products yielded from dead normal cells “eaten” (phagocytosed) by the starving cancer cell which is digested by the cancer cells lysosomal system. This autophagic process of cannibalism keeps the cancer cell alive and thriving and is known as cytophagy, i.e., cannibalism of normal cells. This type of autophagocytosis  results in a parasitic co-existence of tumor cells with normal cells and will determine the main pathway of interaction between the growing cancer tissue (tumor) and normal tissue where the cancer tissue gradually destroys normal tissues. This process obeys the second law of thermodynamics-conservation of energy within a defined system.

Treatments for Cancer

 Bosutinib: a SRC–ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitor for treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia. 

FE Rassi, HJ Khoury. Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine  2013:6 57–62.

Bosutinib is one of five tyrosine kinase inhibitors commercially available in the United States for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia. This review of bosutinib summarizes the mode of action, pharmacokinetics, efficacy and safety data, as well as the patient-focused perspective through quality-of-life data. Bosutinib has shown considerable and sustained efficacy in chronic myeloid leukemia, especially in the chronic phase, with resistance or intolerance to prior tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Bosutinib has distinct but manageable adverse events. In the absence of T315I and V299L mutations, there are no absolute contraindications for the use of bosutinib in this patient population

Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a clonal myeloproliferative stem cell disorder characterized by the presence of a signature hybrid oncogene, the BCR–ABL. The Philadelphia chromosome (Ph+) results from a reciprocal translocation between chromosome 9 and chromosome 22 that juxtaposes the two genes BCR and ABL and drives the leukemogenesis in CML. The ABL gene encodes for a nonreceptor tyrosine kinase that becomes deregulated and constitutively active after the juxtaposition of BCR. BCR–ABL is central in controlling downstream pathways involved in cell proliferation, regulation of cellular adhesion, and apoptosis.The understanding of the importance of this kinase activity in the pathophysiology of CML led to the development of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) that specifically target BCR–ABL. These agents became the mainstay of modern therapy in CML. CML has a triphasic clinical course, and the majority of patients (∼80%) are diagnosed during the early phase or the chronic phase (CP). However, and without effective treatment, CML invariably progresses to the advanced phases of the disease – the accelerated phase (AP) and the blast phase (BP). BP CML is a lethal refractory secondary leukemia with a short predicted survival.

Comprehensive molecular portraits of human breast tumors

 The Cancer Genome Atlas Network

Nature. 2012 October 4; 490(7418): 61–70.

We analyzed primary breast cancers by genomic DNA copy number arrays, DNA methylation, exome sequencing, mRNA arrays, microRNA sequencing and reverse phase protein arrays. Our ability to integrate information across platforms provided key insights into previously-defined gene expression subtypes and demonstrated the existence of four main breast cancer classes when combining data from five platforms, each of which shows significant molecular heterogeneity.

Somatic mutations in only three genes (TP53, PIK3CA and GATA3) occurred at  > 10% incidence across all breast cancers; however, there were numerous subtype-associated and novel gene mutations including the enrichment of specific mutations in GATA3, PIK3CA and MAP3K1 with the Luminal A subtype. We identified two novel protein expression-defined subgroups, possibly contributed by stromal/microenvironmental elements, and integrated analyses identified specific signaling pathways dominant in each molecular subtype including a HER2/p-HER2/HER1/p-HER1 signature within the HER2-Enriched expression subtype. Comparison of Basal-like breast tumors with high-grade Serous Ovarian tumors showed many molecular commonalities, suggesting a related etiology and similar therapeutic opportunities. The biologic finding of the four main breast cancer subtypes caused by different subsets of genetic and epigenetic abnormalities raises the hypothesis that much of the clinically observable plasticity and heterogeneity occurs within, and not across, these major biologic subtypes of breast cancer.

Most molecular studies of breast cancer have focused on just one or two high information content platforms, most frequently mRNA expression profiling or DNA copy number analysis, and more recently massively parallel sequencing. Supervised clustering of mRNA expression data has reproducibly established that breast cancers encompass several distinct disease entities, often referred to as the intrinsic subtypes of breast cancer. The recent development of additional high information content assays focused on abnormalities in DNA methylation, microRNA expression and protein expression, provide further opportunities to more completely characterize the molecular architecture of breast cancer.

Synbiology contribution and Nanotechnology

Synthetic RNAs Designed to Fight Cancer

Xiaowei Wang and his colleagues at  Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have designed synthetic molecules that combine the advantages of two experimental RNA therapies against cancer.  They have designed synthetic molecules that combine the advantages of two experimental RNA therapies against cancer.  RNA plays an important role in how genes are turned on and off in the body. Both siRNAs and microRNAs are snippets of RNA known to modulate a gene’s signal or shut it down entirely. Separately, siRNA and microRNA treatment strategies are in early clinical trials against cancer, but few groups have attempted to marry the two.

“We are trying to merge two largely separate fields of RNA research and harness the advantages of both,” said Xiaowei Wang, assistant professor of radiation oncology and a research member of the Siteman Cancer Center.  The study appears in the December issue of the journal RNA.

“We designed an artificial RNA that is a combination of siRNA and microRNA,” Wang said “our artificial RNA simultaneously inhibits both cell migration and proliferation.”  For therapeutic purposes, “small interfering” RNAs, or siRNAs, are designed and assembled in a lab and can be made to shut down– or interfere with– a single specific gene that drives cancer.  The siRNA molecules work extremely well at silencing a gene target because the siRNA sequence is made to perfectly complement the target sequence, thereby silencing a gene’s expression.

Though siRNAs are great at turning off the gene target, they also have potentially dangerous side effects: siRNAs inadvertently can shut down other genes that need to be expressed to carry out tasks that keep the body healthy.  The siRNAs interfere with off-target genesthat closely complement their “seed region,” a section of the siRNA  that governs binding to a gene target. “In the past, we tried to block the seed region in an attempt to reduce the side effects. Until now, we never tried to replace the seed region completely.”

Wang and his colleagues asked whether they could replace the siRNA’s seed region with the seed region from microRNA. Unlike siRNA, microRNA is a natural part of the body’s gene expression. And it can also shut down genes. As such, the microRNA seed region (with its natural targets) might reduce the toxic side effects caused by the artificial siRNA seed region. Plus, the microRNA seed region would add a new tool to shut down other genes that also may be driving cancer.

Wang’s group started with a bioinformatics approach, using a computer algorithm to design siRNA sequences against a common driver of cancer, a gene called AKT1 that encourages uncontrolled cell division. The program also selected siRNAs against AKT1 that had a seed region highly similar to the seed region of a microRNA known to inhibit a cell’s ability to move, thus potentially reducing the cancer’s ability to spread.

A Neutralizing RNA Aptamer

 Nucleic acid aptamers have been developed as high-affinity ligands that may act as antagonists of disease-associated proteins. Aptamers are non immunogenic and characterised by high specificity and low toxicity thus representing a valid alternative to antibodies or soluble ligand receptor traps/decoys to target specific cancer cell surface proteins in clinical diagnosis and therapy. The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) has been implicated in the development of a wide range of human cancers including breast, glioma and lung. The observation that its inhibition can interfere with the growth of such tumors has led to the design of new drugs including monoclonal antibodies and tyrosine kinase inhibitors currently used in clinic. However, some of these molecules can result in toxicity and acquired resistance, hence the need to develop novel kinds of EGFR-targeting drugs with high specificity and low toxicity.

(CL Esposito, D Passaro, et al. A Neutralizing RNA Aptamer against EGFR Causes Selective Apoptotic Cell Death. PLoS ONE 6(9): e24071.

Here we generated, by a cell-Systematic Evolution of  Ligands by EXponential enrichment (SELEX) approach, a nuclease resistant RNA-aptamer that specifically binds to EGFR with a binding constant of 10 nM. When applied to EGFR-expressing cancer cells the aptamer inhibits EGFR-mediated signal pathways causing selective cell death. Furthermore, at low doses it induces apoptosis even of cells that are resistant to the most frequently used EGFR-inhibitors, such as gefitinib and cetuximab, and inhibits tumor growth in a mouse xenograft model of human non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Interestingly, combined treatment with cetuximab and the aptamer shows clear synergy in inducing apoptosis in vitro and in vivo. In conclusion, we demonstrate that this neutralizing RNA aptamer is a promising bio-molecule that can be developed as a more effective alternative to the repertoire of already existing EGFR-inhibitors.

In-Silico Molecular Docking Analysis of Cancer Biomarkers

Currently, in the research scenario for cancer, the identification of anti-cancer drugs using immuno-modulatory proteins and other molecular agents to initiate apoptosis in cancer cells and to inhibit the signaling pathways of cancer biomarkers as a drug targeted therapy, for cancer cell proliferation assays by the researchers. In-Silico analysis is used to recognize anticancer compounds as a future prospective for In-Vitro and In-Vivo analysis. A large number of herbal remedies (e.g. garlic, mistletoe) are used by cancer patients for treating the cancer and/or reducing the toxicities of chemotherapeutic drugs. Some herbal medicines have shown potentially beneficial effects on cancer progression and may ameliorate chemotherapy-induced toxicities.  (K. Gowri Shankar et al., In-Silico Molecular Docking Analysis of Cancer Biomarkers with Bioactive Compounds of Tribulus terrestris. Intl J NOVEL TRENDS PHARMAL SCI. 2013; 3(4).

Tribulus terrestris is mentioned in ancient Indian Ayurvedic medical texts dating back thousands of years. Tribulus terrestris has been widely used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine for the treatment of sexualdysfunction and various urinary disorders. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the interactions of some bioactive compounds of Tribulus terrestris for In-Silico anticancer analysis with cancer biomarkers as targets. The targeted biomarkers for analysis include NSE-Lung cancer, Follistatin-Prostrate cancer, GGT Hepatocellular carcinoma, Human Prostasin-Ovarian cancer.

GC-MS analysis of Tribulus terrestris whole plant methanol extract revealed the existence of the major compound like 3,7,11,15-tetramethylhexadec-2-en-1-ol, 1,2-Benzenedicarboxylic acid, disooctyl ester, 9,12,15-Octadecatrienoic acid, (z,z,z)-, 9,12-Octadecadienoic acid (z,z)-, Hexadecadienoic acid, ethyl ester, n-Hexadecadienoic acid, Octadecanoic acid, Phytol, α-Amyrin are chosen as ligands. Hence, by analyzing the minimum binding energy of the ligand binding complex with the receptors by dockinganalysis using AutoDock tools will show effective nature of inhibition of these receptors by the unique ligands. Based on the results low minimum binding energy ligands are identified and used as a future studies can be done for specific receptors  docking.

Anti-Cancerous Effect of4,4′-Dihydroxychalcone ((2E,2′E)-3,3′-(1,4-Phenylene) Bis (1-(4-hydroxyphenyl) Prop-2-en-1-one)) on T47D Breast Cancer Cell Line

Narges Mahmoodi, T Besharati-Seidani, N Motamed, and NO Mahmoodi*
Annual Research & Review in Biology 2014; 4(12): 2045-2052
SCIENCEDOMAIN international

Aims: The majority of human breast tumors are estrogen receptor α (ERα) positive. However, not all of the ERα+ breast cancers respond to anti-estrogens drugs for those women who do respond, initial positive responses can be of short duration. Thus, more effective drugs are needed to enhance the efficacy of anti-estrogens drugs or to be used separately in a period of time. In view of potential cytotoxicity associated with silybin as polyhydroxy compounds a synthetic 4-hydroxychalcones (bis-phenol) was considered to explore its anti-carcinogenic effects in comparison to silybin on ERα+ breast cancer cell line.

Methodology: We have studied the inhibitory effect of 4,4′-dihydroxychalcone on the T47D breast cancer cell line by MTT test and the IC50s were estimated using Pharm PCS.

Results: The 4,4′-dihydroxychalcone showed significant dose- and time-dependent cell growth inhibitory effects on T47D breast cancer cells. The IC50 of 4,4′-dihydroxychalcone on T47D cells after 24 and 48 hours was 160.88+/1 μM, 62.20+/1 μM and for silybin was 373.42+/-1 μM,176.98+/1 μM respectively.

Conclusion: Our results strongly suggests that this premade synthetic 4,4′-dihydroxychalcone can promote anti carcinogenic actions on T47D cell line. All 4,4′-dihydroxychalcone doses had a much larger inhibitory effect on cell viability than silybin doses in T47D cells. The ratio of the IC50 of 4,4′-dihydroxychalcone to silybin after 24 and 48 hours was 1: 2.3 and 1: 2.8 respectively.

Anticancer and multidrug resistance-reversal effects of solanidine analogs synthetized from pregnadienolone acetate.

István Zupkó, Judit Molnár, Borbála Réthy, Renáta Minorics, Eva Frank, et al.
Molecules (Impact Factor: 2.43). 01/2014; 19(2):2061-76.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A set of solanidine analogs  with antiproliferative properties were recently synthetized from pregnadienolone acetate, which occurs in Nature. The aim of the present study was an in vitro characterization of their antiproliferative action and an investigation of their multidrug resistance-reversal activity on cancer cells. Six of the compounds elicited the accumulation of a hypodiploid population of HeLa cells, indicating their apoptosis-inducing character, and another one caused cell cycle arrest at the G2/M phase. The most effective agents inhibited the activity of topoisomerase I, as evidenced by plasmid supercoil relaxation assays. One of the most potent analogs down-regulated the expression of cell-cycle related genes at the mRNA level, including tumor necrosis factor alpha and S-phase kinase-associated protein 2, and induced growth arrest and DNA damage protein 45 alpha. Some of the investigated compounds inhibited the ABCB1 transporter and caused rhodamine-123 accumulation in murine lymphoma cells transfected by human MDR1 gene, expressing the efflux pump (L5178). One of the most active agents in this aspect potentiated the antiproliferative action of doxorubicin without substantial intrinsic cytostatic capacity. The current results indicate that the modified solanidine skeleton is a suitable substrate for the rational design and synthesis of further innovative drug candidates with anticancer activities.

Nutrition and Cancer

 Ascorbic Acid and Selenium Interaction: Its Relevance in Carcinogenesis

 Michael J. Gonzalez
Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine 1990; 5(2)

Ascorbic acid and selenium are two nutrients that seem to have a preventive potential in the process of carcinogenesis; because of a possible synergistic action that may produce an enhanced anticarcinogenic effect. Interaction between these nutrients have been reported. Results indicate that the protective effect of the inorganic form of selenium (Na Selenite) was nullified by ascorbic acid, whereas the chemopreventive action of the organic form (seleno-DL-methionine) was not affected.

A possibility exists that Selenite is reduced by ascorbic acid to elemental selenium and is therefore not available for tissue uptake. In experiments using Selenite; plasma and erythrocyte glutathione peroxidase enzyme activity was directly related to the level of ascorbic acid fed.

Complementary RNA and Protein Profiling Identifies Iron as a Key Regulator of Mitochondrial Biogenesis

J W. Rensvold, Shao-En On, A Jeevananthan, et al.
Cell Rep. 2013 January 31; 3(1): .

Mitochondria are centers of metabolism and signaling whose content and function must adapt to
changing cellular environments. The biological signals that initiate mitochondrial restructuring
and the cellular processes that drive this adaptive response are largely obscure. To better define
these systems, we performed matched quantitative genomic and proteomic analyses of mouse
muscle cells as they performed mitochondrial biogenesis. We find that proteins involved in
cellular iron homeostasis are highly coordinated with this process and that depletion of cellular
iron results in a rapid, dose-dependent decrease of select mitochondrial protein levels and
oxidative capacity. We further show that this process is universal across a broad range of cell
types and fully reversed when iron is reintroduced. Collectively, our work reveals that cellular iron
is a key regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis, and provides quantitative data sets that can be
leveraged to explore posttranscriptional and posttranslational processes that are essential for
mitochondrial adaptation.

Avemar outshines new cancer ‘breakthrough’ drug

by Michael Traub
Townsend Letter / Oct, 2010

Many of us in the cancer research community were happy to hear about progress against metastatic melanoma reported this June at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical
Oncology (ASCO). since there has not been an improvement in overall survival from chemotherapy in over three decades.
Data from a phase III clinical trial of the experimental monoclonal antibody ipilimumab (pronounced “ep-eh-lim-uemab”) showed that patients with melanoma survived longer if they were taking ipilimumab than if they were not, regardless of whether they also were taking the other drug in the study, an experimental cancer vaccine. (1)

A Closer Look: How Big an Improvement, at What Cost to Patients?

Overall Survival: the ‘Gold Standard’ for Judging Cancer Therapies

Overall survival (OS) is the length of time that a patient actuallysurvives a cancer after treatment. It can also be measured as the percentage of patients surviving a specific time. It is the gold
standard by which the usefulness of a cancer treatment should be determined. Many things can help a patient, but the most important goal of doctors and patients is for the cancer patient to live longer, with a decent quality of life (QOL).

Among patients taking ipilimumab with or without the experimental vaccine, median overall survival was about 10 months. That is compared with 6.4 months’ overall survival among patients receiving the vaccine by itself. About 45.6% of patients taking ipilimumab survived one year, an improvement of some 7% over the 38% seen in some earlier studies. This very modest improvement in survival comes at quite a price.

Severe Side Effects in More Than One in Four Ipilimumab Patients Ipilimumab has some side effects that can be “both severe and long-lasting,” according to the study report. Among patients taking ipilimumab by itself (without the vaccine), 19.1% had side effects requiring hospitalization or invasive intervention, 3.8% died from the effects of the drug, and another 33.8% had life-threatening or disabling side effects. All totaled, 26.7% of the patients taking ipilimumab by itself– more than 1 in 4-had side effects that were severe, very severe, or fatal. Severe side effects included diarrhea, nausea, constipation, vomiting, abdominal pain, fatigue, cough, and headache. Vernon Sondak, MD, of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer and Research Institute, said that “using the drug requires the medical team to be on guard to manage toxicity at all times.” But even with its severe side effects, the researchers said that the drug should be welcomed because it can increase median survival from 6.4 months to 10.1 months. That is because any lengthening of lives is welcome in a disease that hasn’t seen a new drug that can do that in many years.

Fermented Wheat Germ (Avemar) Improves Melanoma Survival Without Harsh Side Effects

But what if there already were such a treatment available-not a drug, but a safe, natural substance shown in clinical trials to have a remarkably similar ability to lengthen the lives of melanoma patients, without the severe side effects of the new drug?
What if the other substance had no significant side effects at all?
What if, instead of causing severe and sometimes fatal side effects, that other substance actually helped prevent and reduce serious side effects caused by chemotherapy and radiotherapy?
In fact, there is just such a treatment available. It is known as fermented wheat germ extract (FWGE) and by its trade name Avemar. It has been approved as a medical nutriment for cancer
patients in Europe for years and is available in the US as a dietary supplement. It has been compared to dacarbazine (DTIC), standard melanoma therapy, in a clinical trial with longer
follow-up than the ipilimumab trial. And with better results.

In 2008, data were published in the research journal Cancer Biotherapy and Radiopharmaceuticals from seven years’ follow-up on a trial at the N. N. Blokhin Cancer Center in Moscow,
Russia, involving 52 patients who had taken or not taken Avemar while taking dacarbazine for the year following surgical removal of their stage III melanoma tumors. (2) Patients who got only dacarbazine survived 44.7 months. Those who got Avemar along with their dacarbazine survived 66.2 months. This is an improvement in overall survival time of over 48%. In the Russian study,
just as it has in other studies, Avemar reduced side effects of the chemotherapy. Among those taking only dacarbazine, 11 % experienced severe (grade 3 or grade 4) side effects that required hospitalization or invasive intervention. None of the Avemar patients had grade 3 or 4 side effects. Since it is difficult to compare length of survival between the recent ipilimumab study and the Avemar melanoma study, because the ipilimumab study tested mostly stage 4 melanoma patients and the Avemar study tested mostly stage 3 melanoma patients, it is most instructive to look at
the percentage improvement in overall survival from adding either treatment to the regimen. Ipilimumab and Avemar both produced very similar improvements in OS (56% vs. 48%, respectively),

Avemar Ameliorates Conventional Treatment Side Effects

The improvement of survival and the amelioration of chemotherapy side effects by Avemar seen in the Russian melanoma study is typical of Avemar’s effects when used in treating other cancers, including in combination with chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Among 170 colorectal cancer patients in a 2003 study published in the British journal of Cancer, Avemar improved overall survival
and reduced metastasis and recurrences after surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. (3) Taking Avemar for six months during and after those conventional treatments resulted in a 61.8% reduction in the death rate among those patients, compared with those who received only the conventional treatment. Those taking Avemar experienced lower rates of recurrences and metastases
as well, even though most patients in the Avemar group came into the study with more advanced disease, had more radiation earlier, and had been diagnosed longer. Side effects of Avemar, as in
other Avemar trials., were rare, mild, and transient, with no serious adverse events occurring.

In a 2004 study published in the journal of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, childhood cancer patients taking Avemar during and after conventional therapies had a 42.8% reduction in the
low white blood cell counts and high fever known as febrile neutropenia, which can be a life-threatening consequence of chemotherapy and radiation. (4) This and similar results with
Avemar in other cancers are consistent with animal studies showing that Avemar helps the immune system recover a full white blood cell count after chemotherapy and radiation faster
than would otherwise happen. This study also demonstrated the safety of Avemar for children.

Why Avemar Works in Many Different Kinds of Cancer

Extensive studies in cells and animals have shown how Avemar works. Perhaps its most important action is to restrict cancer cells’ use of glucose. (5) Cancer cells use up to 50 times more glucose
than normal cells, a phenomenon known as the Warburg effect. (6) They use those enormous amounts of glucose to make ribose, the backbone sugar of DNA, much faster than normal cells can. To
do this, they must use a different series of biochemical reactions (“pathway”) than normal cells. Avemar makes this very difficult for cancer cells to do, because it inhibits the activity of the key enzyme in that pathway, transketolase (TK). (7) With the TK pathway blocked, cancer cells cannot use large amounts of glucose to make DNA fast enough to support the proliferation that makes them so dangerous.(8-10)

In experiments in the US and abroad, scientists have learned that Avemar has these additional effects. It:

* lowers the levels of a DNA repair enzyme known as poly (ADPribose) polymerase (PARP).” With this effect, cancer cells are forced to self-destruct, preventing them from proliferating and
producing a synergistic cancer-cell killing effect when given with chemotherapy, which also works to damage cancer cells’ DNA;
* reduces the number of molecules on cancer cells that identify them as originating within the body (MHC-1 molecules). (12) With cancer cells stripped of that protection, the immune system,
which recognizes the cancer cells as abnormal, no longer gives them the pass given to cells originating in the body. The cancer cells are attacked by the immune system’s natural killer (NK)
cells and destroyed;
* increases levels of molecules called intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) on the blood vessels of cancer tumors. (13). The increase helps immune system cells pass through the walls of the blood vessels supplying the tumor blood flow, moving directly into the tumor to attack its cancer cells; increases the activity of the primary anticancer cytokine, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a), and produces a synergistic effect in interaction with other anticancer cytokines. (14) Cytokines are substances produced by cells to act directly on other cells. TNF-a helps force cancer cells into the programmed death known as apoptosis and inhibits tumorigenesis, the process through which new tumors are formed;
* inhibits the activity of ribonucleotide reductase (RR), a key enzyme that cells must have to make new DNA so that each cancer cell can divide to make two more like it. (15) With DNA
production slowed, increases in cancer cell growth and replication are inhibited.

Antimetastatic and Immune-Boosting Effects Are Key to Survival

Because the biochemical changes listed above have consistently been shown in both animal and human studies to be directly linked to reducing cancer’s ability to metastasize and to
improving the immune system’s ability to fight cancer, scientists count them as among the most likely main causes of improved survival seen in cancer patients when Avemar is used alone or,
more often, as an adjuvant in addition to standard-of-care therapies such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or the combination of the two. (16-23)

Extending Life: How Long, Exactly, and At What Cost in Quality of Life?

Any improvement in advanced melanoma survival, no matter how small, is certainly an achievement. But ipilimumab had severe side effects requiring hospitalization or invasive intervention in
over one-quarter of patients treated with it. And it increased median survival only by 3-plus months. On the other hand, Avemar added to dacarbazine improved survival very markedly, with no severe side effects. If actually improving overall survival substantially without significant side effects means that a drug should be considered as the new standard of care for first-line therapy, then there is no need to wait for further results. Avemar has already demonstrated very significant improvement in survival over chemotherapy alone and has a safety profile unmatched by
conventional therapies.

Michael Traub, ND, FABNO, is in private practice and serves as a member of Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians board of examiners.
(1.) Hodi FS, O’Day SJ, McDermott DF, et al. Improved survival with ipilimumab in patients with metastatic melanoma. N Engl J Med. 2010 Jun 14.
(2.) Demidov LV. Manziuk LV, Kharkevitch GY, Pirogova NA,  Artamonova EV. Adjuvant fermented wheat germ extract (Avemar) nutraceutical improves survival of high-risk skin
melanoma patients; a randomized, pilot, phase ll clinical study with a 7-year follow-up. Cancer Biother Radiopharm. 2008 Aug. 23(4):477-482. Erratum in: Cancer Biother Radiopharm. 2008
(3.) Jakab F, Shoenfeld Y, Balogh A. et al. A medical nutriment has supportive value in the treatment of colorectal cancer. Br J Cancer. 2001 Aug 4;89(3):465-9.
(4.) Garami M, Schuler D, Babosa M, et al. Fermented wheat germ extract reduces chemotherapy-induced febrile neutropenia in pediatric cancer patients, J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2004
(5.) Boros I.G, Lapis K, Szende B, et al. Wheat germ extract decreases glucose uptake and RNA ribose formation but increases fatty acid synthesis in MIA pancreatic adenocarcinoma
cells. Pancreas. 2001 Aug:23(2):141-147.
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by Michael Traub, ND, FABNO
COPYRIGHT 2010 The Townsend Letter Group
COPYRIGHT 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning

Nanotechnology in Cancer Drug Delivery and Selective Targeting

Nanoparticles are rapidly being developed and trialed to overcome several limitations of traditional drug delivery systems and are coming up as a distinct therapeutics for cancer treatment. Conventional chemotherapeutics possess some serious side effects including damage of the immune system and other organs with rapidly proliferating cells due to nonspecific targeting, lack of solubility, and inability to enter the core of the tumors resulting in impaired treatment with reduced dose and with low survival rate.

Nanotechnology has provided the opportunity to get direct access of the cancerous cells selectively with increased drug localization and cellular uptake. Nanoparticles can be programmed for recognizing the cancerous cells and giving selective and accurate drug delivery avoiding interaction with the healthy cells. This review focuses on cell recognizing ability of nanoparticles by various strategies having unique identifying properties that distinguish them from previous anticancer therapies. It also discusses specific drug delivery by nanoparticles inside the cells illustrating many successful researches and how nanoparticles remove the side effects of conventional therapies with tailored cancer treatment.

(Kumar Bishwajit Sutradhar and Md. Lutful Amin. Hindawi Publ. Corp.  2014, Article ID 939378, 12 pages

Cancer, the uncontrolled proliferation of cells where apoptosis is greatly disappeared, requires very complex process of treatment. Because of complexity in genetic and phenotypic levels, it shows clinical diversity and therapeutic resistance. A variety of approaches are being practiced for the treatment of cancer each of which has some significant limitations and side effects. Cancer treatment includes surgical removal, chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone therapy. Chemotherapy, a  very common treatment, delivers anticancer drugs systemically to patients for quenching the uncontrolled proliferation of cancerous cells. Unfortunately, due to nonspecific targeting by anticancer agents, many side effects occur and poor drug delivery of those agents cannot bring out the desired outcome in most of the cases. Cancer drug development involves a very complex procedure which is associated with advanced polymer chemistry and electronic engineering.

The main challenge of cancer therapeutics is to differentiate the cancerous cells and the normal body cells. That is why the main objective becomes engineering the drug in such a way as it can identify the cancer cells to diminish their growth and proliferation. Conventional chemotherapy fails to target the cancerous cells selectively without interacting with the normal body cells. Thus they cause serious side effects including organ damage resulting in impaired  treatment with lower dose and ultimately low survival rates.

Nanotechnology is the science that usually deals with the size range from a few nanometers (nm) to several hundrednm, depending on their intended use. It has been the area of interest over the last decade for developing precise drug delivery systems as it offers numerous benefits to overcome the limitations of conventional formulations . It is very promising both in cancer diagnosis and treatment since it can enter the tissues at molecular level.

Cisplatin-incorporated nanoparticles of poly(acrylic acid-co-methyl methacrylate) copolymer

K Dong Lee, Young-Il Jeong,  DH Kim,  Gyun-Taek Lim,  Ki-Choon Choi.  Intl J Nanomedicine 2013:8 2835–2845.

Although cisplatin is extensively used in the clinical field, its intrinsic toxicity limits its clinical use. We investigated nanoparticle formations of poly(acrylic acid-co-methyl methacrylate) (PAA-MMA) incorporating cisplatin and their antitumor activity in vitro and in vivo.

Methods: Cisplatin-incorporated nanoparticles were prepared through the ion-complex for­mation between acrylic acid and cisplatin. The anticancer activity of cisplatin-incorporated nanoparticles was assessed with CT26 colorectal carcinoma cells.

Results: Cisplatin-incorporated nanoparticles have small particle sizes of less than 200 nm with spherical shapes. Drug content was increased according to the increase of the feeding amount of cisplatin and acrylic acid content in the copolymer. The higher acrylic acid content in the copolymer induced increase of particle size and decrease of zeta potential. Cisplatin-incorporated nanoparticles showed a similar growth-inhibitory effect against CT26 tumor cells in vitro. However, cisplatin-incorporated nanoparticles showed improved antitumor activity against an animal tumor xenograft model.

Conclusion: We suggest that PAA-MMA nanoparticles incorporating cisplatin are promising carriers for an antitumor drug-delivery system.

Researchers Say Molecule May Help Overcome Cancer Drug Resistance
By Estel Grace Masangkay

A group of researchers from the University of Delaware has discovered that a deubiquitinase (DUB) complex, USP1-UAF1, may present a key target in helping fight resistance to platinum-based anticancer drugs. The research team’s findings were published online in Nature Chemical Biology.

Zhihao Zhuang, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UD, and his team studied a DNA damage tolerance mechanism called translesion synthesis (TLS). Enzymes known as TLS polymerases synthesize DNA over damaged nucleotide bases, followed by replication after lesion. The enzymes have been linked with building cancer cell resistance to certain cancer drugs including cisplatin. Cisplatin is used in treatment of ovarian, bladder, and testicular cancers which have spread.

“Cancer drugs like cisplatin work by damaging DNA and thereby preventing cancer cells from replicating the genomic DNA and dividing. However, cancer cells quickly develop resistance to cisplatin, and we and other researchers suspect that a polymerase known as Pol η is involved in overcoming cisplatin-induced lesions,” Professor Zhuang said.

The team found that USP1-UAF1 may play a crucial role in regulating DNA damage response. A new molecule ML323 can be used to inhibit processes such as translesion synthesis. Zhuang said, “Using ML323, we studied the cellular response to DNA damage and revealed new insights into the role of deubiquitination in both the TLS pathway and another one called the Fanconi anemia, or FA, pathway. We’re very encouraged by the fact that a single molecule is effective at inhibiting the USP1-UAF1 DUB complex and disrupting two essential DNA damage tolerance pathways.”

A novel small peptide as an epidermal growth factor receptor targeting ligand for nanodelivery in vitro

Cui-yan Han,  Li-ling Yue, Ling-yu Tai,  Li Zhou  et al.  Intl J Nanomedicine 2013:8 1541–1549

The discovery of suitable ligands that bind to cancer cells is important for drug delivery specifically targeted to tumors. Monoclonal antibodies and fragments that serve as ligands have specific targets. Natural ligands have strong mitogenic and neoangiogenic activities. Currently, small pep­tides are pursued as targeting moieties because of their small size, low immunogenicity, and their ability to be incorporated into certain delivery vectors.

The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) serves an important function in the proliferation of tumors in humans and is an effective target for the treatment of cancer. The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a transmembrane protein on the cell surface that is overexpressed in a wide variety of human cancers. EGFR is an effective tumor-specific target because of its significant functions in tumor cell growth, differentiation, and migration. EGFR-targeted small molecule peptides such as YHWYGYTPQNVI have been successfully identified using phage display library screening; by contrast, the peptide LARLLT has been generated using computer-assisted design (CAD).

These peptides can be conjugated to the surfaces of liposomes that are then delivered selectively to tumors by the specific and efficient binding of these peptides to cancer cells that express high levels of EGFR.

In this paper, we studied the targeting characteristics of small peptides (AEYLR, EYINQ, and PDYQQD) These small peptides were labeled with fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) and used the peptide LARLLT as a positive control, which bound to putative EGFR selected from a virtual peptide library by computer-aided design, and the independent peptide RALEL as a negative control.

Analyses with flow cytometry and an internalization assay using NCI-H1299 and K562 with high EGFR and no EGFR expression, respectively, indicated that FITC-AEYLR had high EGFR targeting activity. Biotin-AEYLR that was specifically bound to human EGFR proteins demonstrated a high affinity for human non-small-cell lung tumors.

We found that AEYLR peptide-conjugated, nanostructured lipid carriers enhanced specific cellular uptake in vitro during a process that was apparently mediated by tumor cells with high-expression EGFR. Analysis of the MTT assay indicated that the AEYLR peptide did not significantly stimulate or inhibit the growth activity of the cells. These findings suggest that, when mediated by EGFR, AEYLR may be a potentially safe and efficient delivery ligand for targeted chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and gene therapy.

Arginine-based cationic liposomes for efficient in vitro plasmid DNA delivery with low cytotoxicity

SR Sarker  Y Aoshima,   R Hokama  T Inoue  et al. Intl J Nanomedicine 2013:8 1361–1375.

Currently available gene delivery vehicles have many limitations such as low gene delivery efficiency and high cytotoxicity. To overcome these drawbacks, we designed and synthesized two cationic lipids comprised of n-tetradecyl alcohol as the hydrophobic moiety, 3-hydrocarbon chain as the spacer, and different counterions (eg, hydrogen chloride [HCl] salt or trifluoroacetic acid [TFA] salt) in the arginine head group.

 Cationic lipids were hydrated in 4-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-piperazineethanesulfonic acid (HEPES) buffer to prepare cationic liposomes and characterized in terms of their size, zeta potential, phase transition temperature, and morphology. Lipoplexes were then prepared and characterized in terms of their size and zeta potential in the absence or presence of serum. The morphology of the lipoplexes was determined using transmission electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy. The gene delivery efficiency was evaluated in neuronal cells and HeLa cells and compared with that of lysine-based cationic assemblies and Lipofectamine™ 2000. The cytotoxicity level of the cationic lipids was investigated and compared with that of Lipofectamine™ 2000.

 We synthesized arginine-based cationic lipids having different counterions (ie, HCl-salt or TFA-salt) that formed cationic liposomes of around 100 nm in size. In the absence of serum, lipoplexes prepared from the arginine-based cationic liposomes and plasmid (p) DNA formed large aggregates and attained a positive zeta potential. However, in the presence of serum, the lipoplexes were smaller in size and negative in zeta potential. The morphology of the lipoplexes was vesicular.

Arginine-based cationic liposomes with HCl-salt showed the highest transfection efficiency in PC-12 cells. However, arginine-based cationic liposomes with TFA salt showed the highest transfection efficiency in HeLa cells, regardless of the presence of serum, with very low associated cytotoxicity.

The gene delivery efficiency of amino acid-based cationic assemblies is influ­enced by the amino acids (ie, arginine or lysine) present as the hydrophilic head group and their associated counterions.

Molecularly targeted approaches herald a new era of non-small-cell lung cancer treatment

H Kaneda, T Yoshida,  I Okamoto.   Cancer Management and Research 2013:5 91–101.

The discovery of activating mutations in the epidermal growth-factor receptor (EGFR) gene in 2004 opened a new era of personalized treatment for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). EGFR mutations are associated with a high sensitivity to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors, such as gefitinib and erlotinib. Treatment with these agents in EGFR-mutant NSCLC patients results in dramatically high response rates and prolonged progression-free survival compared with conventional standard chemotherapy. Subsequently, echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4 (EML4)–anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK), a novel driver oncogene, has been found in 2007. Crizotinib, the first clinically available ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitor, appeared more effective compared with standard chemotherapy in NSCLC patients harboring EML4-ALK. The identification of EGFR mutations and ALK rearrangement in NSCLC has further accelerated the shift to personalized treatmentbased on the appropriate patient selection according to detailed molecular genetic characterization. This review summarizes these genetic biomarker-based approaches to NSCLC, which allow the instigation of individualized therapy to provide the desired clinical outcome.

Non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has a poor prognosis and remains the leading cause of death related to cancer worldwide. For most individuals with advanced, metastatic NSCLC, cytotoxic chemotherapy is the mainstay of treatment on the basis of the associated moderate improvement in survival and quality of life. However, the outcome of chemotherapy in such patients has reached a plateau in terms of overall response rate (25%–35%) and overall survival (OS; 8–10 months). This poor outcome, even for patients with advanced NSCLC who respond to such chemotherapy, has motivated a search for new therapeutic approaches.

Recent years have seen rapid progress in the development of new treatment strat­egies for advanced NSCLC, in particular the introduction of molecularly targeted therapiesand appropriate patient selection. First, the most important change has been customization of treatment according to patient selection based on the genetic profile of the tumor. Small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) that target the epidermal growth-factor receptor (EGFR), such as gefitinib and erlotinib, are especially effective in the treatment of NSCLC patients who harbor activating EGFR mutations.

Surgical Nanorobotics using nanorobots made from advanced DNA origami and Synthetic Biology

Ido Bachelet’s moonshot to use nanorobotics for surgery has the potential to change lives globally. But who is the man behind the moonshot?

Ido graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with a PhD in pharmacology and experimental therapeutics. Afterwards he did two postdocs; one in engineering at MIT and one in synthetic biology in the lab of George Church at the Wyss Institute at Harvard.

Now, his group at Bar-Ilan University designs and studies diverse technologies inspired by nature.

They will deliver enzymes that break down cells via programmable nanoparticles.

Delivering insulin to tell cells to grow and regenerate tissue at the desired location.

Surgery would be performed by putting the programmable nanoparticles into saline and injecting them into the body to seek out remove bad cells and grow new cells and perform other medical work.


Robots killing and suppressing cancer cells


Robots delivering payload

Molecular building blocks


Robot blocks neuron


automation of robotic surgery

Nanoparticles with computational logic has already been done


 robotic algorithm


Load an ensemble of drugs into many particles for programmed release based on situation that is found in the body


robotic lung cancer Rx


chemotherapy regimen


Chemoprevention in Model Experiments

Effects of Two Disiloxanes ALIS-409 and ALIS-421 on Chemoprevention in Model Experiments




Figure 1. Chemical structures of ALIS-409 and ALIS-421.

Morpholino-disiloxane (ALIS-409) and piperazinodisiloxane (ALIS-421) compounds were developed as inhibitors of multidrug resistance of various types of cancer cells. In the present study, the effects of ALIS-409 and ALIS-421 compounds were investigated on cancer promotion and on co-existence of

tumor and normal cells. The two compounds were evaluated for their inhibitory effects on Epstein-Barr virus immediate early antigen (EBV-EA) expression induced by tetradecanoylphorbolacetate (TPA) in Raji cell cultures. The method is known as a primary screening test for antitumor effect, below the (IC50) concentration. ALIS-409 was more effective in inhibiting EBV-EA (100 μg/ml) and tumor promotion, than

ALIS-421, in the concentration range up to 1000 μg/ml. However, neither of the compounds were able to reduce tumor promotion significantly, expressed as inhibition of TPA-induced tumor antigen activation. Based on the in vitro results, the two disiloxanes were investigated in vivo for their effects on mouse skin tumors in a two-stage mouse skin carcinogenesis study.







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