Metformin Promotes AMP-activated Protein Kinase-independent Suppression of ΔNp63α and Inhibits Cancer Cell Viability

Journal: Journal of Biological Chemistry

Published: 2017-02-13

DOI: 10.1074/jbc.m116.769141

Affiliations: 2

Authors: 9

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Research Highlight

How a diabetes drug may help fight cancer

© Hero Images/Getty

© Hero Images/Getty

New ways to treat common malignancies could emerge from a study that explains how the popular diabetes drug, metformin, can also kill cancer cells.

Evidence supporting the use of metformin to help combat tumours has been growing in recent years, but how it works is still poorly understood.

A team led by Sichuan University researchers treated cells from human head and neck cancers with metformin and studied the molecular pathways affected. They found that when cells were deprived of glucose, metformin inhibited the expression of a cancer-associated protein involved in the cancer cells’ ability to adhere to surfaces. This inhibition resulted in the death of the cancer cells.

They also showed that combining metformin with a protein that inhibited the metabolism of glucose also inhibited the expression of the protein, and suppressed tumour growth.

This finding about the mechanism for metformin’s anticancer activity “suggests a new strategy” for treating common types of cancers, the researchers say.

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  1. Journal of Biological Science 13, 5253–5261 (2017). doi: 10.1074/jbc.m116.769141
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Sichuan University (SCU), China 1