The problem is that there are many different amino acids, and that it is very hard to determine which of these are limiting for the growth of individual tumors. NKI postdoc Fabricio Loayza-Puch managed to develop a technique that can do so, for all types of tumors. The technique involves a novel use of Ribo-seq and is called Diricore. Loayza-Puch and his colleagues that were involved in the project recently published about it in Nature. For his supervisor, NKI group leader Reuven Agami, this extraordinary achievement was one of the main reasons to nominate him for the AvL Prize.
"This prize is a very nice surprise for me, I didn't expect it," says Loayza-Puch. "I didn't even know I was nominated." He stresses that the technique he developed doesn't mean that the approach of 'starving' tumors can be used in the clinic just yet. It is nearly impossible to completely remove a single type of amino acid from someone's diet. Loayza-Puch: "Therefore, what we are doing now, is to apply this technology to different types of tumors and mouse models and we expect to uncover many cancer-specific metabolic vulnerabilities. Our aim is that eventually our findings will lead to new types of anti-cancer