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Starving Pancreatic Cancer of Cysteine Kills Tumor Cells, Collaborative Study Finds

Date Visible: 
04/05/2020 - 11:45am

Media contact: Ian Demsky, 734-764-2220 |  Patients may contact Cancer AnswerLine, 800-865-1125

Daniel Kremer, Ph.D.
U-M Rogel Cancer Center researcher Daniel Kremer, Ph.D.

Member of Lyssiotis Lab

A new study published in the journal Science suggests a compound in development for a rare kidney stone disease may have potential against pancreatic cancer.

The compound starves tumors of an amino acid, cysteine, which was found to be critical to the survival of pancreatic cancer cells.

The study was a collaboration that included the Lyssiotis lab at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center and researchers from the Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The work at U-M was led by Daniel M. Kremer, Ph.D, a graduate student in chemical biology and member of the Lyssiotis lab.

“Our lab was excited to contribute to this study by detailing how the metabolic programs in pancreatic cancer cells are impacted when starved of cysteine,” says Costas Lyssiotis, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology at the U-M Medical School. “Dependence on the amino acid cysteine appears to be a unique vulnerability of the pancreatic cancer cells. We’re encouraged by how well this treatment is tolerated, illustrating that this is a new way to selectivity target the cancer cells without systemic toxicity. Given that the immune system is spared by cysteine deprivation, we are excited to explore future studies combining our strategy with immune therapies.”

For the full announcement, visit the Columbia University Irving Medical Center newsroom.