MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Leyuan Liu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Center for Translational Cancer Research
Institute of Biosciences and Technology
Texas A&M University
Houston, Texas 77030
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Our research team has been working on the question why people develop cancers and how we can prevent or cure them. In contrast to public views, we concluded from our studies that cancers, similar to our age-related diseases, originate from inefficiencies of our body to clean up cellular wastes accumulated during our lifespan. The most important pathway to clean up those wastes is called autophagy, or cellular self-eating behavior. We study how autophagy is regulated, how autophagy causes cancers, and whether we can control autophagy to prevent or cure cancers.
Previously we found autophagy is regulated by a protein called MAP1S and mice without MAP1S are more likely to develop liver cancer. We have been seeking ways to improve MAP1S-mediated autophagy to prevent liver cancer. Our current study show that spermidine, a natural component existing in many foods, can increase the stability of MAP1S proteins and activate MAP1S-mediated autophagy. Concurrent with the benefits of expand mouse lifespans ours also reported, spermidine can suppress the development of liver fibrosis and liver cancer specifically through MAP1S if we add spermidine into the daily drinking water of mice.