Scientists have just made an important discovery as to how cancer-targeting ‘Natural Killer’ (NK) cells are fuelled in the body, which has significant implications for related therapies. They found that glutamine – vital for making the energy that fuels tumour cell growth – is not an important fuel for making energy in NK cells, which instead primarily use glucose. As a result the door is now open to targeting glutamine metabolism in tumour cells, as any drugs that do this will not hinder our cancer-killing NK cells.
The scientists, led by Ussher Assistant Professor in Immunometabolism at Trinity College Dublin, Dr David Finlay, have just published their findings in leading journal Nature Communications.
In the paper, they report their new and unexpected insights into the fuels used by NK cells to generate the all-important energy that allows them to kill tumour cells. These findings have important implications for certain cancer therapeutics under development by the pharmaceutical industry.
NK cells are immune cells that play an important role in our defence against cancer, as they can directly kill tumour cells. Once activated, NK cells increase their intake of fuels and generate more energy, which facilitates a boost in their tumour-killing
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