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Stopping the Spread of Cancer

In 2016, there will be more than 1.6 million new cancer cases diagnosed in the United States and nearly 600,000 cancer deaths.

Scientists have recently identified the pathways that allow cancers to spread and that could lead to a breakthrough for new treatments for those patients.

It’s not the cancer itself, but the metastasis, the spreading of the cancer to other parts of the body that often proves lethal. That’s why discovering the metabolic pathways by which it spreads will save lives. 

"Developing drugs that would inhibit that process would be completely transformative in the lives of cancer patients,” said Ralph DeBerardinis, M.D., PhD, an associate professor at Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern.

The Children’s Medical Center Research team at UT Southwestern found a different form of metabolism within the cancer cells that allow them to live and grow while spreading away from their original location. 

“The metabolism of a cancer cell is different from the metabolism of a normal cell,” explained DeBerardinis.

The cancer cells they study come from living cancer patients.

While most treatments are directed toward specific tumors, drugs developed from this research will target the pathways to stop the deadly spread of cancer.

“The most exciting thing by far is that this could be a new way to curtail metastasis in cancer patients,” said DeBerardinis.

That could someday save thousands of lives.

Researchers believe more studies will need to be done to test the role of the pathway in living organisms before new drugs can be developed.  

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