In a crucial breakthrough in cancer research, it has been found that sugar 'awakens' cancer cells and makes tumours more aggressive.
The study conducted by Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie (VIB), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven) and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) in Belgium explained why cancer cells rapidly break down sugars without producing much energy - a phenomenon discovered in 1920, dubbed as 'Warburg effect'.
The nine-year joint research revealed that sugar naturally connects with a gene called 'ras', which is essential to each cancer cell's ability to survive.
The study that was published in the journal Nature Communications, clarifies the link between metabolic deviation and oncogenic potency in cancerous cells.
"Our research reveals how the hyperactive sugar consumption of cancerous cells leads to a vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth", said Johan Thevelein from VIB-KU Leuven.
"Thus, it is able to explain the correlation between the strength of the Warburg effect and tumour aggressiveness. This link between sugar and cancer has sweeping consequences", said Thevelein.