Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), commonly known as lupus, is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks healthy tissue such as the skin, joints, kidneys and the brain, leading to inflammation and lesions. The disease affects about 1 in 2000 Canadians, particularly women. Previous research has suggested that lupus patients have an increased risk of developing cancer, particularly lymphoma. Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that occurs when cells called lymphocytes, which usually help protect the body from infection and disease, begin growing and multiplying uncontrollably leading to tumor growth.
Researchers at McGill University have discovered that a key regulator of energy metabolism in cancer cells known as the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) may play a crucial role in restricting cancer cell growth. AMPK acts as a “fuel gauge” in cells; AMPK is turned on when it senses changes in energy levels, and helps to change metabolism when energy levels are low, such as during exercise or when fasting. The researchers found that AMPK also regulates cancer cell metabolism and can restrict cancer cell growth.
A team of researchers at McGill University have discovered a molecular basis for the potential cancer preventive effects of vitamin D. The team, led by McGill professors John White and David Goltzman, of the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Physiology, discovered that the active form of vitamin D acts by several mechanisms to inhibit both the production and function of the protein cMYC. cMYC drives cell division and is active at elevated levels in more than half of all cancers. Their results are published in the latest edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.