A team led by professor Kim Soo-yeol of the Department of Cancer Biology Research confirmed for the first time in the world, that the energy source of cancer cells is fatty acid.
The results of the study were published in the latest issue of Cancers, an international, peer-reviewed Open Access journal and was announced by The National Cancer Center on Sept. 14.
The result overruns a study by German physiologist Otto Warburg who nabbed the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine in 1931.
Until now, cancer cells have been known to metabolize through a process of decomposing glucose into lactic acid. Based on this research, Otto Warburg took home the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine in 1931.
Professor Kim's team produced different results from Warburg’s findings through cell and animal tests. When Warburg conducted tests, they used a culture fluid containing only glucose, which led to erroneous results. Kim's team conducted cell tests under conditions similar to those of the human body to confirm that cancer cells use more oxygen and grow faster than normal cells. In this process, the team found out that while the energy source of normal cells is glucose, cancer cells entirely rely on fatty acid oxidation.
In an actual test of mice with pancreatic cancer, cancer incidence dropped fourfold when fatty acids were replaced with carbohydrates.
"The four-fold decrease in cancer incidence just by replacing fatty acids with carbohydrates as the energy source is an effect comparable to cancer treatment," Kim said. "Our research results suggest that new treatments can be introduced based on blocking cancer energy metabolism."
Is a cancer cure around the corner?
We hope the Korean team will find the way to finally have a real cure for all kind of cancer, in the near future.