West U. Doctors Study New Cancer-Killing Method

February 2, 2010

Two doctors who live just blocks from each other in West University Place recently co-published research findings that may provide a new method to kill cancer cells.

West U. residents Michael Andreeff and Heinrich Taegtmeyer teamed up with a third researcher, Ismael Samudio, to publish a report in the Journal of Clinical Investigation showing that leukemia cells live and grow by metabolizing fatty acids in addition to using energy from glucose.

Michael Andreeff

Michael Andreeff

Inhibiting fatty acid oxidation makes leukemia cells vulnerable to drugs that force them to commit suicide, the scientists found.

“These findings translate to a potentially transformational approach to controlling leukemia and cancer cell metabolism by therapeutically targeting fatty acid oxidation,” according to a statement by Andreeff, a professor in M.D. Anderson’s Department of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy.

Andreeff is collaborating with fellow West U. resident Taegtmeyer, professor in the University of Texas Medical School Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, to develop drugs based on their research results.

“The leukemia cells’ appetite for fat seems to be formidable,” Taegtmeyer said in the statement. “More importantly, fat oxidation seems to promote leukemia cell survival. Conversely, shutting off fat oxidation makes the cells vulnerable to self-destruction. If these initial results hold up, inhibitors of fat oxidation may become a new way to treat leukemia patients.”

Houston resident Ismael Samudio, a fellow in Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy, was the first author on the research report. The three scientists collaborated with many other researchers in different departments at M.D. Anderson.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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