Cancer remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide, despite significant advances in our understanding of its biology. Development of cancer therapeutics is challenging due, partly, to the vast diversity of the disease and underlying causes.
A key attribute of successful cancer therapies is their ability to selectively target tumours while sparing healthy tissues. Therefore, identifying features that are common to a broad spectrum of cancers and distinguish them from normal cells is an important objective in cancer research. One such distinguishing feature of cancer cells is the way they use nutrients to survive and multiply, i.e. their metabolism (see Figure 1).
Our research aims at understanding how nutrient metabolism contributes to cancer development. Towards this goal, we are employing a multidisciplinary approach that includes metabolomics, biochemistry, microscopy, proteomics and mouse models, to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that distinguish the metabolism of tumours from that of normal tissues. A further aim of our work is to define principles for rational targeting of cancer metabolism as a therapeutic strategy.
More specifically, our current research focus on three areas:
- Investigating how metabolism is coordinated between cells and between tissues using mouse models of liver cancer.
- Elucidating the role of mitochondrial compartmentalisation in the control of glucose metabolism.
- Probing the role of allostery in metabolic regulation through the development and use of optogenetic tools, combined with structural, biophysical and computational methods.
- Understanding the mode of action of, and mechanisms of resistance to drugs that target cancer metabolism