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New compound kills cancer cells by starving them of glucose

August 4, 2011 - Washington

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have identified a compound called STF-31 that attacks the Achilles' heel of certain cancer cells by depriving them of their energy source, the sugar glucose.

"This study demonstrates an approach for selectively inhibiting the ability of cancer cells to take up glucose, which is a pretty powerful way of killing those cells," said senior study author Amato Giaccia, PhD, professor and director of radiation oncology.

The researchers focused their study on the most common form of Kidney Cancer in adults, renal cell carcinomas, which is resistant to typical chemotherapies.

Most renal cell carcinomas produce energy through a biochemical process called aerobic glycolysis, one that healthy cells don't typically require. The energy-making process is dependent on the cells' ability to take up glucose from their environment.

"The cells that we are targeting are highly dependent on glucose transport for energy production," said Denise Chan, PhD, former postdoctoral researcher at Stanford and co-first author of the new study.

"This compound stops the cells from transporting glucose, so it starves them," he added.

The finding will be published Aug. 3 in Science Translational Medicine.


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