Division Metabolic Dysfunction & Cancer

4T1 breast cancer cells 3D culture. Source: Garcia/IDC

Epidemiological studies revealed that the Metabolic Syndrome and its components obesity, insulin resistance, and Type 2 Diabetes are associated with an increased risk for certain types of cancer. This risk connection between metabolic dysfunction and tumor development applies particularly to cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, as well as liver, kidney and breast cancer and becomes manifest in increased tumor incidence and/or aggressiveness.

Conversely, different types of cancer induce a metabolic wasting syndrome which is characterized by dramatic loss of muscle and adipose tissue. This so-called cancer cachexia is particularly often and most pronounced in patients suffering from lung, colorectal and pancreatic cancer and associated with poorer response and tolerance to cancer therapy. It is estimated that cachexia represents the direct cause of about 20 percent of cancer deaths, emphasizing the unmet urgent clinical need for novel and effective therapies.

By combining in vivo models of metabolic dysfunction with cancer models as well as complementary in vitro approaches, we aim to characterize specific molecular mechanisms contributing to the complex interaction between aberrant hormonal, inflammatory, and nutritional signaling conferring the metabolic etiology as well as the metabolic consequences of cancer.