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New Study Finds Cancer Is Metabolic Disorder Challenging Decades of Genomic Research


Offers New Hope for Breast Cancer Early Diagnosis and Treatment

In a study of more than 1,200 patients, published in the Friday, August
3, issue of Oncotarget, an international team of 35 co-investigators
from 17 institutions spanning the U.S., Brazil and Europe reported that
cancer occurs because cancer cells make and use energy differently from
normal cells. The new study finds that cancer is a metabolic disorder
which challenges decades of genomic research. View the article here.

"This suggests that cancer is not a genetic disease arising solely from
mutations as we have all been taught, but instead a metabolic condition
that develops under the stress of cellular nutrient deprivation," said
Robert Nagourney, MD, senior author of the study. "Cells that cannot
generate enough energy due to lack of oxygen, sugars or proteins, common
to many cancers, use altered metabolic pathways to ensure their
survival. Unfortunately these cancer cells' success comes at the expense
of the host patient," Nagourney added.

Using mass spectrometry to measure minute quantities of sugars, amino
acids and lipids in the blood of cancer patients, these scientists found
metabolic signatures that clearly identified breast cancer patients with
a greater than 95 percent accuracy. Breast cancer patients have changes
in their metabolism that "predispose" them to the development of their

The findings support a new concept of carcinogenesis wherein cancer is
not caused by mutations, but instead borrows mutated or even non-mutated
cellular pathways to overcome limitations in their nutrient supply. As
cancer is increasingly associated with obesity, this study provides
scientific proof that diet and lifestyle contribute the stresses that,
in predisposed individuals, can lead to malignant transformation and
death. For more than a century, scientists thought that cancer was
metabolically different, but it wasn't until the advent of modern
quantitative mass spectrometry that physicians and scientists could
accurately measure and quantify the differences. By examining almost 200
different chemicals in the blood stream and comparing cancer patients to
controls, the team of investigators showed striking differences that
clearly separated normal people from cancer patients.

The implications of the study are profound as it introduces a new
platform for early diagnosis, provides prognostic information for
response and survival, and offers insights into novel strategies for
cancer prevention. Additional studies are underway to extend these
findings to other forms of cancer. Mass spectrometry is a technique that
can accurately measure the content of body fluids like blood or urine.
Using ion vaporization, exceedingly small amount of metabolites can be
quantified and compared. As little as 10 microliters of blood (one drop)
can be used.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in American women with
more than 250,000 new cases diagnosed and 40,000 deaths associated with
this disease in 2017. Early detection has improved the survival of this
disease, but mammography and ultrasound often cannot detect the disease
when it is at its earliest and most curable stage.

About the Nagourney Cancer Institute

Dr. Robert Nagourney, a board certified oncologist/hematologist, is the
founder and medical laboratory director of the Nagourney Cancer
Institute in Long Beach, CA. He has pioneered the use of human tissue
studies for individualized treatment selection and spearheaded new drug
development using the Ex Vivo Analysis of Programmed Cell Death
(EVA/PCD) platform. For more information, visit
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