Speaker: Associate Professor Amanda Hummon, Ohio State University
Title: Evaluating Nutrient Restriction as an Approach to Augment Chemotherapy in Colorectal Cancer
Abstract: The use of short-term fasting is a potential cancer treatment that could be used in tandem with current cancer regimes to increase their potency. The Hummon lab has determined that simultaneous short-term glucose starvation and treatment with a common antimalarial drug, right and left colon cancer cells can be sensitized to chemotherapy treatment. We have demonstrated with colon cancer cells that tumor suppressor proteins are increased in their abundance after treatment with the FDA-approved malaria drug, chloroquine, and short-term glucose starvation for 72 hours. This treatment rendered the cancer cells more susceptible to chemotherapy. The hypothesis of this treatment is that cancer cells are particularly dependent on anaerobic respiration and use glucose for metabolism. When glucose is removed as a food source, the cells respond by triggering a survival process called autophagy. The antimalarial drug chloroquine blocks activation of autophagy and thus makes the cancer cells extremely vulnerable to external stressors, like glucose reduction and chemotherapy. We demonstrated that this two-pronged approach of glucose deprivation combined with autophagy inhibition was extremely effective at sensitizing colon cancer cells to treatments. The next step is to test the approach in mice, to determine whether normal cells will respond to the nutrient stress/autophagy inhibition or whether they will be unaffected. Should this multi-pronged approach increase chemotherapeutic efficacy in mice, then we will proceed with clinical trials involving glucose restriction and autophagy inhibition prior to chemotherapy.