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CHAPEL HILL — To get the extra energy they need to fuel their uncontrolled growth, cancer cells break down some of their own parts for fuel – a process known as autophagy, or “self-eating.” Researchers from the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center found a possible therapeutic strategy to block self-eating in one of the deadliest cancers, as well as to cut off the tumor’s other energy sources.

The researchers are reporting preclinical findings for a potential two-treatment strategy to block multiple mechanisms of cancer cell metabolism in pancreatic cancer at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting in Chicago. The findings will be presented from 8 a.m. to noon on Wednesday.

“We know that cancer cells have a greater need for energy than normal cells,” said UNC Lineberger’s Channing Der, PhD, Sarah Graham Kenan Distinguished Professor in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Pharmacology.

“They get their energy by changing normal metabolic processes to allow them to generate more energy, and one of these processes is self-eating. Basically what a cancer cell does is it does this more efficiently than a normal cell.”

In other studies, pancreatic cancer cells have been known to rely

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