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Salk scientists curb growth of cancer cells by blocking access to nutrients

Research led by Satchidananda Panda, with first author Gabriele Sulli, showed how to curb cancer cell growth by blocking the cells’ access to nutrients. The key is the circadian cycle, the intrinsic clock that exists in all living things and helps control when individual cells produce and use nutrients. The team focused on REV-ERBα and REV-ERBβ, proteins that are part of the clock’s machinery and modulate cells’ ability to synthesize fats and recycle materials. Since cancer cells rely heavily on both of these processes to grow, the researchers thought activating REV-ERBs might slow that growth. Panda’s team used two activating drugs on a variety of cancer cells, including T cell leukemia, breast, colorectal, melanoma and glioblastoma. In each line, the drugs were able to kill the cancer cells, but had no effect on healthy cells.

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