Harvard Medical School has identified the key enzyme responsible for a malignant tumor’s rapid growth, the BBC has reported.
This could be a revolutionary finding if scientists can continue to tamper with the mechanism of the enzyme; thus stopping the growth of cancerous cells, according to a study in Nature.
The newly identified enzyme, pyruvate kinase, enables cancer cells to consume large amounts of glucose, which is needed to fuel uncontrolled growth, according to a report in Nature.
Pyruvate kinase comes in two forms, but Harvard found that PKM2 is the only form able to consume glucose at such a fast speed.
In the report, scientists discussed how they starved cancer cells of the enzyme and the cells’ growth was stunted.
Scientists also forced cancer cells to switch to the other form of pyruvate kinase, and the result was the same.
The cells were injected into mice and the researchers found the mice were less able to produce tumors.