Cancer needs energy to drive its out-of-control growth. It gets energy in the form of glucose, in fact consuming so much glucose that one method for imaging cancer simply looks for areas of extreme glucose consumption – where there is consumption, there is cancer. But how does cancer get this glucose? A University of Colorado Cancer Center study published today in the journal Cancer Cell shows that leukemia undercuts the ability of normal cells to consume glucose, thus leaving more glucose available to feed its own growth.
“Leukemia cells create a diabetic-like condition that reduces glucose going to normal cells, and as a consequence, there is more glucose available for the leukemia cells. Literally, they are stealing glucose from normal cells to drive growth of the tumor,” says Craig Jordan, PhD, investigator at University of Colorado Cancer Center, division chief of the Division of Hematology and the Nancy Carroll Allen Professor of Hematology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
Like diabetes, cancer’s strategies depend on insulin. Healthy cells need insulin to use glucose. In diabetes, either the pancreas under-produces insulin or tissues cannot not respond to insulin and so cells are left starved for energy while glucose builds up in the blood. The current study shows that leukemia goes about creating similar conditions of glucose buildup in two ways.
Read more at Colorado Cancer Blogs