Two studies probe the relationship between cancer and glucose in search of possible treatments.

Cancer cells are addicts and, thanks to new research, we are now a step closer to preventing them getting their next fix and even, potentially, stopping them in their tracks.

It has long been known that rapidly dividing tumour cells have a prodigious appetite for sugar, in the form of glucose, to fuel their runaway growth. That predilection has been exploited to detect tumours, which preferentially take up a radio-labelled glucose analogue that lights up on a nuclear scan.

The logical next step is a tantalising one: starve the tumour cells of glucose and you might just bring the big C to its knees.

Not so fast. While glucose is targeted in some cancer treatments, healthy cells also use it as fuel, and so a blanket approach of glucose deprivation can hurt them, too. Hence the search for a selective means of robbing cancer cells of their precious nutrient.

Research led by Koji Itahana, from the Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Program at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, published in Science Signaling, offers up two promising new targets for that endeavour.

Read the full article in Cosmos magazine here