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CANCER

Salk Institute researchers and collaborators

developed a novel cancer treatment that

halts fat synthesis in cells. Placebo-treated

cells (left) have far more lipid (red) production

compared to ND-646-treated cells (right).

Fat isn’t just something

we eat: it may lie at the

heart of a new approach

to treating cancer.

Cells create their own fat molecules

to build critical cellular structures.

Reuben Shaw’s lab, along with academic

and industry collaborators, has found

a way to obstruct this instrumental

process to stifle cancer’s growth,

detailed September 2016 in

Nature

Medicine

. Like halting the delivery

of supplies to a construction site, the

approach stalls the molecular building

blocks cancer needs to grow.

Researchers had previously

hypothesized that interrupting cells’

lipid assembly line could disable cancer,

but it was only recently that they were

able to disrupt the process and test

this theory. Shaw, first author Robert

Svensson, and colleagues partnered

with Nimbus Therapeutics to test a

molecule that shuts off a critical player

in lipid synthesis, an enzyme called

Acetyl-CoA Carboxylase, or ACC.

In large-scale tests in animal models

of cancer and in transplanted human

lung cancer cells, the novel ACC

inhibitor led to tumor masses shrinking

by roughly two-thirds compared to

untreated animals. And when the team

paired this new drug with one of the

common treatments for non-small lung

cancer (carboplatin), the anti-tumor

response was even greater: a dramatic

87 percent of tumors were suppressed,

compared to 50 percent with the

standard treatment alone, pointing

to a promising drug candidate for lung

cancer as well as liver and other types

of cancer.

TARGETING

FAT TO TREAT

CANCER

10 INSIDE SALK

WINTER 2016

WWW.SALK.EDU

DISCOVERIES

WATCH

www.salk.edu/insidesalk/1216/shaw