AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 4, 2017

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Study Provides Better Understanding of How Brain Tumors ‘Feed’

New findings explain how the enzyme ACSS2 aids tumors in a nutrient-starved environment offering potential new treatment approaches

All cancer tumors have one thing in common – they must feed themselves to grow and spread, a difficult feat since they are usually in a tumor microenvironment with limited nutrients and oxygen. A study at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has revealed new details about how an enzyme called acetyl-CoA synthetase 2 (ACSS2) allows brain tumors to grow despite their harsh surroundings. The findings portends ACSS2 as a potential player in new approaches to treating this often deadly disease. ACSS2 provides tumors a competitive edge by enhancing their ability to use a cellular salt called acetate as a carbon-based food source rather than the more desirable glucose which is often in short supply in cancer cells. This lifeline allows cancer cells at the core of the tumor to survive and even grow as it battles with nutrient deficiency.

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