Researchers at VIB and KU Leuven have underlined the need for more research into the role that the metabolism of stromal support cells and immune cells play in the development of diseases, which could lead to identification of new therapeutic avenues for diabetes, inflammatory conditions and cancer, a new study published in the journal Nature reveals.
Prof. Peter Carmeliet: "Consider the review article a sort of wake-up call. The metabolism of cancer cells has been examined in minute detail for decades now in order to facilitate new oncology treatments, whilst the metabolic research into other important cells such as the stromal and immune cells has not received the scientific attention that it deserves. Metabolic studies into these cells could provide new targets for the treatment of, for example, inflammatory diseases and diabetes."
Cell metabolism Stromal cells are the support cells of the body. One important type of support cell is the endothelial cell, which lines the inner wall of blood vessels. Blood vessels transport oxygen and nutrients to cells. Immune cells attack harmful bacteria and viruses in order to remove them from the body. Each type of cell requires different types of "food" in order to convert this into the energy and nutrients required to allow the cells to do their work. This is called cell metabolism. We now know that - in the case of cancer, diabetes and inflammatory diseases - the supply and processing of this "food" to endothelial cells and other support cells is abnormal. This allows endothelial cells to form new blood vessels (also called angiogenesis) in an excessive manner and causes tumors to grow aggressively due to the fact that the supply of cell nutrients is cranked up.