Long thought to suppress cancer by slowing cellular metabolism, the protein complex AMPK also seems to help tumors grow in some cases, confounding researchers. The lab of Professor Reuben Shaw, including first author Lillian Eichner, showed that advanced cancers can trigger AMPK’s cellular recycling signal to cannibalize pieces of the cell, supplying large lung tumors with the nutrients they need to grow, despite being far from blood vessels. Blocking AMPK in some conditions could stop the growth of advanced tumors in the most common type of lung cancer.Read News Release
In surprising reversal, scientists find a cellular process that stops cancer before it starts
Cells regularly break down and recycle their components in a process called autophagy. Professor Jan Karlseder, first author Joe Nassour and colleagues made a surprising discovery: autophagy—generally thought of as a survival mechanism for both cancerous and normal cells—can actually promote the death of cells, thereby preventing cancer initiation. The work reveals autophagy to be a novel tumor-suppressing pathway and suggests that treatments to block the process in an effort to curb cancer may unintentionally promote it very early on.Read News Release
- Gerald Shadel explores stressed-out mitochondriaInside Salk sat down with Shadel to find out how he became interested in mitochondria, what he is driven by scientifically and what he has learned about aging along the way.
- The science of agingWhat we know about longevity so far: Minimizing smoking, obesity and overeating while maximizing exercise and social interactions seem to correspond to longer and healthier lives, but not always. While many factors have been touted as panaceas for extending life–everything from adhering to a Mediterranean diet to regularly imbibing red wine–a “fountain of youth” has remained stubbornly elusive.
- Lillian Eichner: Reading the clues to fight cancerEichner began studying cancer while pursuing her PhD at McGill University in Montreal. She was drawn to the Salk Institute for her postdoctoral studies because Reuben Shaw, director of the Salk Cancer Center and a professor in Salk’s Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory, has taken a new approach to cancer by studying the metabolic pathways of deadly tumors.