The Sweet Tooth of Cancer Cells

Robert's paper was chosen for the cover of AJP. Congrats Robert! The vast majority of cells used for biomedical research are derived from cancer tissues since they are cheap to maintain, easy to grow and multiply quickly. Specifically, liver cancer cells are desirable for testing the toxicity of drugs for any number of diseases. However, these cells do come with limitations. Since they are cancer cells, they may not be as sensitive to toxins as normal cells, so they may not reveal issues with toxicity that can appear much later in the drug testing process. Changing the sugar glucose for galactose can reprogram some cells to be more physiological relevant for applications such as drug testing. The tumor cells metabolize galactose at a much slower rate than glucose. This changes the metabolism of the cells making them behave more like normal liver cells. Here we provide a detailed analysis about the changes in HepG2 cell energetics, gene expression patterns and metabolome in response to substituting glucose for galactose. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2021 May 1;320(5):C778-C793. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00460.2020.


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