Not such a 'simple' sugar -- glucose may help fight cancer and inflammatory disease

May 30, 2017

Glucose - commonly referred to as a 'simple' sugar - may actually be crucial in the fight against cancer and inflammatory disease as scientists have just discovered a new role in which it stimulates cells that work on the front line in the fight against tumours and infection.

Glucose, which is generated from the food that we eat, is the most important fuel used in our bodies as our cells use it to generate energy and for growth and division. The cells of our immune system become very active during an immune response, such as when responding to infection, and as a result they tend to have high demands for glucose. Unsurprisingly, when immune cells are starved of glucose, as might occur within tumours for instance, they become dysfunctional.

However, new research led by scientists at Trinity College Dublin shows that the immune cells that monitor our bodies for signs of danger (dendritic cells) are different -- when they are starved of glucose they actually become better at stimulating the vital players in the immune response (T lymphocytes).

The scientists believe this opens the door to new therapeutic possibilities to regulate immune responses to cancers and other immune-related diseases.

Ussher Assistant Professor in Cancer Biology, David Finlay, led the team whose work has just been published in leading international journal, Nature Communications (DOI: 10.1038/NCOMMS15620).

Dr Finlay said: "It is becoming clear that glucose is an important signaller in our immune system, in that cells that have access to glucose behave very differently to those that do not. We have discovered that dendritic cells are actually better at stimulating immune responses when starved of glucose, which is not the case for any of the other immune cells that have been analysed."

"The discovery that T cells and dendritic cells compete with each other for glucose offers a new and exciting insight into how glucose can regulate dendritic cell function. We hope that by better understanding how nutrients such as glucose control the immune response, we can go on to develop new therapies to tackle a host of debilitating immune-related diseases."
-end-


Trinity College Dublin

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.