Matthew Vander Heiden

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Cancer Metabolism: On or Off?

The pyruvate kinase M2 isoform (PKM2) is expressed in cancer and plays a role in regulating cell metabolism. In a recent featured article and podcast by Cell, KI biologist Matthew Vander Heiden, Howard S. and Linda Stern Career Development Assistant Professor, showed that PKM2 hyperactivity may not be a marker of tumor cell proliferation as previously thought. In fact, Vander Heiden's results in an in vivo model of PKM2 activity in tumor cells suggest that expression of the enzyme is not necessary for tumor cell proliferation. This implies that the inactive state of PKM2 is associated with tumor cell proliferation, whereas nonproliferating tumor cells require active pyruvate kinase. Consistent with these findings, variable PKM2 expression and recurrent mutations disrupting pyruvate kinase are found in human cancers. The study highlights the importance of understanding the context-dependent metabolic needs of tumor cells in order to therapeutically target cancer metabolism. KI Director Tyler Jacks is also an author of this paper. more...

Tumor Formation Blocked by Boost to Key Enzyme

Cancer cells devote most of their energy to reproducing themselves, triggering alternative metabolic pathways that produce new cellular building blocks. Compounds that disrupt an enzyme critical to this metabolic diversion prevent tumors from forming in mice, according to a study led by KI member Matthew Vander Heiden that appears in Nature Chemical Biology on Aug. 26. more...

Imaging Technology Could Improve Brain Tumor Treatment

A collaborative team of researchers from the KI, Mass. General Hospital, and Agios Pharmaceuticals has developed an imaging technology to detect a mutation found in up to eighty-six percent of the brain tumors known as low-grade gliomas. This technology could help researchers determine whether drugs targeting the tumors are actually working. more...

How Cancer Cells Grow with Limited Supplies

Researchers from MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital report that glutamine, a plentiful amino acid, can serve as an alternate starting point for lipid synthesis when glucose and oxygen are scarce.  The finding, detailed in the Nov. 20th online edition of Nature, helps explain how cancer cells continue to grow rapidly in tissues with limited nutrients.   It also illuminates new drug targets that might be used to selectively starve cancers out. more...

Cutting off Cancer's Food Supply

The Vander Heiden lab works to understand one of the oldest mysteries of cancer – its unusual metabolism. watch...

Opening Remarks

Matthew Vander Heiden, David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research watch...

Inside the Lab: Matthew Vander Heiden

Matthew Vander Heiden

Learn more about the Vander Heiden lab and their efforts to better understand cancer cell metabolism and how small molecules might be used to activate enzymes and restore the normal state of cells. watch...

Matthew Vander Heiden. Photo: Patrick Gillooly

An unexpected twist in cancer metabolism

Most cells in the human body burn sugar to fuel their activities. When cells become cancerous, they employ an alternative, wasteful fuel-burning strategy – one that cancer biologists believe lets tumors devote resources to generating building blocks for new cancer cells. In a paper appearing in the Sept. 16 online edition of Science, KI's Matthew Vander Heiden and researchers at Harvard University report a previously unknown element of cancer cells' peculiar metabolism. The finding could help scientists design drugs that block cancer-cell metabolism, essentially starving them of the materials they need to grow and spread. more...

Cancer cells. Image: National Cancer Institute

KI pushes forward in research on cancer metabolism

KI's Matthew Vander Heiden is part of a new generation of cancer researchers that is setting its sights on cancer cells' bizarre and seemingly inefficient metabolism, which appears to be tightly linked to many of the genes already implicated in cancer. more...

(Dr. Annick D. Van Den Abbeele, Dana-Farber)

Old discovery could bring new cancer therapies

An 80-year-old discovery about the way cancer cells use sugar to generate energy is fueling a new wave of research into how cancers proliferate - and how to stop them. more...