Glucose delivery pathway that feeds tumors could be exploited to knock them down

UCLA's Ernest Wright

New work from researchers at UCLA is shedding light on the delivery of glucose to tumor cells, particularly in pancreatic and prostate cancers. The research could offer new diagnostic procedures for detecting these cancers and, down the road, the use of inhibitors to cut down the amount of glucose delivered to the tumors, slowing down their growth.

Tumors receive glucose from the body via passive glucose transporters. Normally, researchers have turned to PET imaging techniques to detect these delivery mechanisms, but the technique hasn't been as effective in pancreatic and prostate cancers, according to a release from UCLA. Instead, they turned to the sodium-dependent glucose transporters SGLT1 and SGLT2.

They found that the SGLTs expressed themselves in pancreatic and prostate adenocarcomas, delivering glucose and keeping the tumors alive and thriving. Blocking this function could ultimately cut off the tumors' food source, they published in the journal PNAS.

"This is exciting because it provides strong evidence that SGLT2 inhibitors, such as those currently approved by the FDA to treat diseases like diabetes, could potentially block glucose uptake and reduce tumor growth and survival in pancreatic and prostate cancers," lead author Ernest Wright said in a statement.

UCLA's Jorge Barrio

The UCLA team will embark on a clinical trial to investigate further the importance of SGLTs in glucose delivery and, soon thereafter, potentially apply inhibitors to cut back on that delivery.

"GLUT imaging probes that have in the past been shown to be of limited effectiveness on these types of tumors," co-author Jorge Barrio said. "The specific radioactive imaging probe we implemented for SGLTs on these tumors holds tremendous promise to diagnose and stage pancreatic and prostate cancers."

- here's the UCLA release
- and the study abstract