Lung cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in the world with an approximate figure of 1.6 million new cases diagnosed in 2008, 80% of which are comprised of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Poor prognostic markers and delay in diagnosis account for a large segment of lung cancer cases to be past successful cure. Survival rates for this form of the disease are very low, with a 5-year survival rate of <9% (2010) of cases and <5.3% over 10-years (CRUK, public data). Lipid metabolism has been correlated to malignant progression and poor clinical outcome in NSCLC and has been suggested as a hallmark of cancer proliferation and a discriminating factor in treatment planning.
Dr Rosy Favicchio, at Imperial College London’s Comprehensive Cancer Imaging Centre, is researching the impact of lipid metabolism in cancer growth and is part of a team developing new diagnostic imaging technology that will help identify cancers based on their metabolic profile. “We are directing precision medicine strategies by developing new diagnostic, prognostic and predictive biomarkers for patient stratification and early assessment to therapeutic response. If we are to use lipid metabolism as a reporter system for tumour metabolism and synthesize drugs that target the pathways regulating this particular aspect of tumour physiology, we need to generate data that accurately reproduce the tumour microenvironment. The ability to vary the hypoxic load in our model is fundamental for understanding the relationship driving lipid metabolic reprogramming. Our experiments using the Don Whitley Scientific Hypoxystation are designed to further our understanding of the role played by lipid metabolism under hypoxic conditions and evaluate its use as an effective biomarker and druggable driver of NSCLC malignant growth”.