When they no longer have access to sugar, pancreatic cancer cells can feed on another molecule, uridine.
- Pancreatic cells are able to adapt to feed on another molecule when they no longer have access to glucose.
- The molecule is called uridine, but researchers don’t know exactly where it comes from in the body.
- This discovery could ultimately lead to the development of new treatments.
14,184 new cases of pancreatic cancer were detected in France in 2018, including 51% in men, according to theNational Cancer Institute. This cancer is one of the deadliest because, over the same year, there were 11,400 deaths according to the 2022 edition of the Panorama of cancers in Francealmost as many new cases as deaths.
Replace sugar with another molecule
A new study, published in the journal Nature, may provide a new clue to explain the resistance of this disease. The researchers observed that cancer cells were able to adapt when they could no longer feed on glucose (sugar): they replaced it with another molecule called uridine. They therefore have a capacity for adaptation which may explain their resistance.
“The ability of cancer to switch to alternative nutrients has fascinated me for a long time, explains Zeribe Nwosu, one of the authors of this study, in a communicated. block this [comportement] compensatory could we [aider à élaborer] new treatments and that’s [ce que nous espérons avec] this study.“
Better understand and treat pancreatic cancer
So far, the researchers have not been able to determine where exactly uridine comes from in the tumor microenvironment, or how the cancer cells had access to it. “It is found in the bloodstream, but we don’t know where it comes from specificallydevelops Costas Lyssiotis. She’s probably from multiple places, and so far we haven’t been able [de déterminer] a single source.“
When cancer cells no longer have enough nutrients in their environment, due to competition with other cells for example, they therefore adapt and use uridine. “Cancer cells seem to sense glucose and uridine concentrations in the local environment to better adapt”explains Matt Ward, another author of this study.
Pancreatic cancer remains symptomless for a long time, and in 80% to 90% of cases it is diagnosed at a late stage, according to the website of the Vidal, which limits the chances of successful treatment. But these works offer hope:There is potential to better understand and treat pancreatic cancer, with new drug targets and therapeutic approaches“, concludes Anguraj Sadanandam, author of the study.