July 12, 2024

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Nature: Stop the growth of cancer cells by creating an energy crisis

Nature: Stop the growth of cancer cells by creating an energy crisis


Stop the growth of cancer cells by creating an energy crisis. Stop the growth of cancer cells by creating an energy crisisSmall molecule inhibitors (green) target mitochondrial DNA, causing a cell energy crisis in cancer cells, thereby preventing their growth.


Image: Mattias Karlén

Recently, in a study published in Nature, a research team led by the Max Planck Institute for Aging Biology in Germany and the University of Gothenburg in Sweden designed a new type that can specifically target the mitochondrial function of cancer cells. Small molecule inhibitors, which can prevent cancer cells from proliferating and reduce tumor growth. It is worth mentioning that this inhibitor will not affect healthy cells.

Stop the growth of cancer cells by creating an energy crisis

As we all know, mitochondria are the organelles that provide energy in cells and are called “energy factories” of cells. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) plays a key role in the formation of new mitochondria.
It is known that changes in the expression of mtDNA are related to a series of diseases such as human aging, congenital metabolic diseases, neurodegeneration and cancer.

Fast-dividing cancer cells rely heavily on mitochondria. Mitochondria are like a fish in water for cancer cells-continuously supplying cancer cells with energy. Previous studies have shown that many cancer cells can survive without the energy provided by mitochondria, but cancer cells cannot produce new DNA strands (proliferate to form tumors) without mitochondria. Therefore, mitochondria play a key role in tumor formation.

This means that cancer cells continue to divide and must constantly acquire new mitochondria to grow. On the other hand, cancer cells deprived of mitochondria will be like a fish swimming in the bottom of the tank, they will no longer be able to form tumors, and there will only be a dead end.

The corresponding author of the study, Professor Nils-Göran Larsson of the Max Planck Institute for Aging Biology and the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics of Karolinska Institutet, said: “We are very pleased to find that this new inhibitor is used in animals. The model is successful. It can effectively disrupt mtDNA transcription in the recombination system. We hope that this method can be further developed for human anti-cancer treatment.”

Previous attempts to target mitochondria for cancer treatment focused on inhibiting mitochondrial function. However, since mitochondria also play a key role in normal tissue function, this strategy often leads to serious side effects. As an alternative, the research team adopted a new strategy that does not directly interfere with the function of existing mitochondria. To this end, they designed a highly selective inhibitor that targets the mitochondrial genetic material mtDNA.

Larsson said: “Our previous studies have shown that fast dividing cells like cancer cells rely heavily on mtDNA to form new functional mitochondria. Our new inhibitors specifically affect the proliferation of tumor cells, while skeletal muscle, Healthy cells in tissues such as the liver or heart will not be affected for a long time.”

Stop the growth of cancer cells by creating an energy crisis

When studying the mechanism of action of this new type of inhibitor, the researchers observed that these inhibitors put cancer cells in a state of severe energy and nutrient consumption. This will result in a significant decrease in cell viability, growth restriction, and ultimately the death of cancer cells.

Nils-Göran Larsson concluded: “This mtDNA-targeted therapeutic strategy is very promising, but further research is needed before it is considered for use in humans.”


(source:internet, reference only)

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