Tel Aviv University professor Eytan Ruppin and colleagues have developed the first computerized genome-scale model of cancer cell metabolism.
The computer model, a reconstruction of thousands of metabolic reactions that characterize cancer cells, could be used to determine how the metabolism of a normal cell differs, and then to identify drug targets that would specifically affect cancer cell metabolism.
The team tested their predictions by targeting cells from a specific type of renal cancer. "In this type of renal cancer, we predicted that using a drug that would specifically inhibit the enzyme HMOX, involved in Hememetabolism, would selectively and efficiently kill cancer cells, leaving normal cells intact," Ruppin says.
The computer model led the team to hypothesize that the Heme pathway was essential for the cancer cell's metabolism, and an experimental study led by Eyal Gottlieb of the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow, U.K., helped verify the prediction in both mouse and human cell models, as well as provide in-depth research of these metabolic alterations. The approach has the potential to lead to the faster development of more effective cancer treatments.
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