Scientists learn cancer cells rewire metabolism to survive

Cancer cells need food to survive and grow, and the food they rely upon most is glucose. This has led to attempts to kill cancer cells by blocking access to this energy-rich sugar. Surprisingly, glucose-starved tumors don’t die but continued to grow and become more aggressive.

In a study of colon cancer, researchers at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute have discovered the role of a specific protein that, when missing, allows tumors to use an alternative nutrient (glutamine).  Using human tumor samples and a mouse model, the team determined the protein-deficient tumors are able to reprogram their metabolism and survive in conditions that would otherwise be lethal.

Lynne Friedmann is a science writer based in Solana Beach.

The research suggests that finding a way to add the protein back into tumors that lack it, could make them less suited for survival and more sensitive to current therapies.

The study appears in the journal Cell. News release at

Chemical reaction thwarts self-repair in stroke-damaged brain

Nitric oxide, a gaseous molecule produced in the brain, can damage neurons. When the brain produces too much nitric oxide, it contributes to the severity and progression of stroke and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Learning and memory are, in part, controlled by receptors in the brain linked to pores in the nerve cell membrane that regulate the flow of calcium and sodium in and out of the nerve cells. Over-activated receptors trigger the production of nitric oxide which attaches to other proteins, some of which are involved in cell survival and lifespan.  When this is the case, nitric oxide can cause these brain cells to die prematurely—a hallmark of neurodegenerative disease.

Researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute explored nitric oxide’s relationship with proteins that help repair neuronal damage, using cultured neurons as well as a living mouse model of stroke.  They found that nitric oxide reaction with a specific enzyme inhibits a protective cascade of molecular events, thus blocking the brain’s ability to self-repair.

The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. More information at
Urban heat has climate effects
Heat produced in winter months by everyday activities in metropolitan areas is significant enough to influence the jet stream and other major atmospheric systems, thousands of miles away.

Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, studied energy consumption – from heating buildings to powering vehicles – that, in turn, releases waste heat.  The result is a so-called “urban heat island” effect; an increase in the warmth of cities compared to unpopulated areas.  Because many urban heat islands in the Northern Hemisphere lie directly under major atmospheric troughs and jet streams, the effect can widen the jet stream and strengthen atmospheric flows at mid-latitudes.

The authors contend that the urban heat effect accounts for the discrepancy between observed warming and winter warming simulated in the models used by the climate science community for analysis and prediction of climate. They suggest, therefore, that the influence of energy consumption be added as a variable, along with heat-trapping gases and aerosols, computer models of climate change.

The study appears in the journal Nature Climate Change. News release at

Lynne Friedmann is a science writer based in Solana Beach.

Related posts:

  1. Sanford-Burnham research projects selected for upcoming space mission
  2. Scientists study binge-drinking rats to better understand mechanisms of addiction
  3. Scientists find blood test may predict heart attack
  4. Research Report: Stress signal in cancer cells aids tumor growth
  5. Research Report: Finding may help end itching caused by meds

Short URL:

Posted by Staff on Feb 14, 2013. Filed under Columns, Editorial Columns, Research Report. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

La Jolla Community Calendar


Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6

RSS North Coastal News

  • Summer 2014 Carmel Valley Open Basketball League Champs: ‘Carmel Valley Spurs’ August 30, 2014
    On Aug. 18, the Carmel Valley Spurs defeated the Solana Beach Stray Cats, 67-41, in the 5th/6th grade championship game in the Master Sports Carmel Valley OPEN Basketball League. Over a 10-game season, the offense scored 659 points while giving up only 364 on defense. The average game score was 66-36. They had the best rebounders, best shooters, and best def […]
  • Hundreds turn out for Carmel Valley planning board meeting on One Paseo August 30, 2014
    Hearts and visions collided at the Aug. 28 Carmel Valley Community Planning Board meeting, where an overflow crowd turned out to debate the future of the last major slice of the community left to be developed. All 400 seats in Canyon Crest Academy’s theater were filled, and people spilled out into the aisles and crammed into standing-room only spots in the b […]
  • Del Mar Library book-to-movie club picks fall reads August 30, 2014
    Print Goes to the Movies, a book/movie discussion group held at the Del Mar Branch Library at 2 p.m. every second Friday, has announced its upcoming dates and movies. […]