Researchers pinpoint tumor-related protein, slow progression of cancers
Locking a biochemical gate that admits fuel into immune-suppressing cells could slow tumor progression and assist the treatment of multiple cancers, says new research from the Wistar Institute, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and others. Published April 17 in the journal Nature, the study found elevated levels of fatty acid transporter protein 2, or FATP2, in a type of cell known to muffle immune responses and impede cancer therapies. After isolating tumorous cells from humans and mice, the researchers also discovered substantially higher numbers of an energy-granting lipid that FATP2 helps produce and traffic into cells. Collectively, the study's findings implicate FATP2 in maliciously rewiring the body's most common white blood cells, which otherwise act as first responders in fighting infections. When the researchers knocked out a gene linked to FATP2, they found that the tumors of several cancers—lymphoma, lung carcinoma, colon carcinoma and pancreatic cancer—grew markedly slower in mice. Administering the FATP2-inhibiting compound Lipofermata—identified by Nebraska's Concetta DiRusso in the mid-2000s—likewise helped slow and even reject tumors when paired with a drug that disrupts cellular replication. The study suggests that targeting FATP2 in the immune-suppressing cells could block the resulting buildup of lipids and mitigate tumor progression without significant side effects, the team said.