Cancerous process do not by their very nature necessarily follow the metabolic pathways of the normal tissues.
The changes in the genome in cancer are becoming clearer. Such gene changes must by accompanied by enzyme changes. Two reviews look at two important enzyme groups which are important in cell biochemistry , proteases and fatty acid synthase.
Proteases have long been associated with cancer progression because of their ability to degrade extracellular matrices, which facilitates invasion and metastasis. However, recent studies have shown that these enzymes target a diversity of substrates and favour all steps of tumour evolution. Unexpectedly, the post-trial studies have also revealed proteases with tumour-suppressive effects. These effects are associated with more than 30 different enzymes that belong to three distinct protease classes.
Carlos Lopez-Otin and Lynn M. Mutrisian Emerging roles of proteases in tumour suppression Nature Reviews Cancer , 2007, vol 7, 800-808
There is a continued interest in the role of, (a key lipogenic enzyme which catalyses the terminal steps in the de novo biogenesis of fatty acids) in cancer pathogenesis. Tumour-associated fatty acid synthase, by conferring growth and survival advantages rather than functioning as an anabolic energy-storage pathway, appears to accompany the natural course of most human cancers. Recent work on the links between fatty acid synthase and well-established cancer-controlling networks begins to show that there is role for fatty acid synthase in the cancerous process. This must have metabolic consequences.
Javier A. Menendez and Ruth Lupu Fatty acid synthase and the lipogenic phenotype in cancer pathogenesis Nature Reviews Cancer 207, vol 7, 765-777
Whilst such studies do not have immediate relevance to Nutrition, one day these findings will be translated into clinical care say in the anorexia of malignancy.
- Martin Eastwood