Malignant Glioma Tumors Develop Due to Altered Metabolism in Cancer Cells

Duke University researchers in 2009 discovered that mutation in the genes isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1) and 2 (IDH2) was responsible for certain types of brain cancer. In a latest study, these researchers have found that

malignant glioma

tumors are formed in the brain owing to changes in the metabolism of these cancerous cells.

The results of their study are published in the January 31st, 2011, edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The present knowledge can pave the way for the development of new anti-cancer drugs by targeting these tumors.

Knowledge Gained from the Research on Malignant Glioma:

  • Until now, although the role of mutation in these two genes in brain tumor was known to the researchers, the exact mechanism of working of these genes remained elusive.
  • The latest research found that certain changes in the metabolism of the tumor cells take place when mutation occurs in the IDH1 and IDH2 genes.
  • These changes are looked upon as biomarkers which can help in the identification of patients with better treatment chances than the rest.
  • Healthy IDH1 and IDH2 genes play a vital role in the manufacturing of new cells and in the conversion of nutrients to sugar.
  • The researchers found that in laboratory cells with disrupted genes, the concentrations of several metabolites like protein, sugar and fat were changed in comparison to the concentration of these substances in healthy cells.
  • N-acetyl-aspartyl-glutamate is a very common metabolite found in brain. The study found this substance to be 50 times less in the cells with disrupted IDH1 gene.


These findings on

malignant glioma

have taught the researchers that altered cellular metabolism is one of the precursors for brain tumor development.

As the observations of the laboratory experiments matched with the findings in actual patients, the confidence of the researchers on the outcome of their study has increased many folds.

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