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Scientists identify new metabolic pathway for breast cancer

May 23, 2017

The research published today online in Nature reports a high-throughput in vivo screen of more than 133 potential metabolic targets in breast cancer cells at the Whitehead Institute; the screen identified several metabolic enzymes for further follow-up, including a key regulatory enzyme in the serine biosynthesis pathway. Subsequent metabolomics and metabolic flux analysis by Agios and Whitehead Institute scientists provided evidence of the mechanism whereby the serine synthesis pathway supports malignant cell growth in estrogen-negative breast cancer. PHGDH, a key enzyme in this pathway, is amplified in many cancers, and this amplification may play a role in identifying patients who are likely candidates for therapies that target this enzyme. The paper, titled "Functional genomics reveal that the serine synthesis pathway is essential in breast cancer" is available today in the advanced online publication of Nature at nature/nature/journal/vnfv/ncurrent/full/nature10350.html.

"We are thrilled to have identified a new potential metabolic pathway for breast cancer," said Dr. Sabatini, senior author of the study. "This research strongly suggests a central role for metabolic pathways in driving the growth of certain breast cancer cells. The serine pathway, and in particular the enzyme PHGDH, present a promising area for further study in the search for new therapeutic targets in cancer."

Source: Agios Pharmaceuticals