Starving liver cancer
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IMAGE: Chemical engineering professor Maciek R. Antoniewicz (left) and graduate student Christopher P. Long published a new paper in the journal Nature Communications. view more 

Credit: University of Delaware/ Julie Stewart

Scientists at the University of Delaware and the University of Illinois at Chicago have found a new way to kill liver cancer cells and inhibit tumor growth. First, they silence a key cellular enzyme, and then they add a powerful drug. They describe their methods in a new paper published in Nature Communications.

This research could accelerate the development of new treatments for liver cancer, which is currently difficult to cure. Often surgery is not an option for liver cancer, and the available drugs are only modestly effective. More than 82 percent of liver cancer patients die within five years of diagnosis, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Manipulating cells to kill cancer

This project originated in labs at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where researchers grew liver cancer cells and manipulated their expression of an enzyme called hexokinase-2. Then, the cells were treated with metformin, a diabetes drug that decreases glucose production in the liver.

The research group of Maciek R. Antoniewicz, Centennial Professor of

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