Scientists uncover a crucial link between cholesterol synthesis and cancer progression

Credit: Babita Madan

Scientists led by a team at Duke-NUS Medical School have made a breakthrough in understanding the mechanisms that influence cancer cell growth and development. Publishing in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the researchers illuminate the previously hidden role of a novel enzyme, called fatty acid hydroxylase domain containing 2 (FAXDC2), revealing its pivotal role in cholesterol synthesis and cancer progression. The study details the cascade of molecular events beginning from the suppression of FAXDC2 to the disruption of normal cholesterol synthesis to altered cancer fates, highlighting a potential vulnerability in cancer cells that could be targeted for therapeutic intervention.

“Our journey into the cellular drivers of cancer started with an exploration of the Wnt signaling pathway, a crucial player in cell growth and development,” explained Assistant Professor Babita Madan, first author of the study from Duke-NUS’ Cancer & Stem Cell Biology (CSCB) Program.

“It was during these studies that we stumbled upon the enzyme FAXDC2, which emerged as a central figure in controlling cancer and stem cells. Our discovery suggests that FAXDC2’s activity, or its suppression, has profound implications for cellular growth and differentiation, painting a complex picture of the relationship between cancer biology and cholesterol synthesis.”

The research began with a deep dive into the Wnt signaling pathway, known for its critical role in the regulation of both normal and cancer cell growth. Wnt signaling is a key signaling pathway that regulates growth and development and maintaining brain, skin, hair and intestinal cells.

By  Federico Graciano, Duke-NUS Medical School

Article can be accessed on: MedicalXpress