An investigation carried out at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center (OH, USA) has uncovered abnormal metabolism of the essential amino acids methionine and tryptophan in glioblastoma.
The study suggests that this abnormal amino acid metabolism aids in the development of the disease. Furthermore, the findings, published recently in Clinical Cancer Research, hint at novel methods to potentially treat the malignancy, slow its progression and reveal its extent more precisely.
According to the study, it is the loss of key enzymes within glioblastoma cells that results in this abnormal metabolism. Modified methionine metabolism is described as promoting the activation of oncogenes, and the changes in tryptophan aid in masking the malignant cells from the immune system.
“While we need to better understand how these abnormally regulated metabolites activate oncogenic proteins, our intriguing discovery suggests novel therapeutic targets for this disease,” commented principal investigator and study leader Arnab Chakravarti (The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center).
Chakravarti went on to describe how restoring the action of the key enzymes within the metabolic pathways of these amino acids could potentially slow tumor progression or diminish the aggressiveness of the disease. The study also suggests that restricting dietary intake of methionine and tryptophan might help slow tumor progression and improve treatment outcomes.
“While we need to better understand how these abnormally regulated metabolites activate oncogenic proteins, our intriguing discovery suggests novel therapeutic targets for this disease,” Chakravarti continued.
In terms of imaging the disease, the team also postulate that the PET scans using methionine as a tracer could help more accurately map the disease, as methionine is taken up faster by glioblastoma cells in comparison to normal cells. Increased accuracy of mapping of these tumors could aid in increasing precision at both surgical removal and planning of radiation therapy,