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Oxford University researchers have identified a protein used by tumours to help them detect food supplies. Initial studies show that targeting the protein could restrict cancerous cells’ ability to grow.

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A team from Oxford University’s Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics led by Dr Deborah Goberdhan worked with cancer doctor and researcher, Professor Adrian Harris, to understand the effects of this protein called PAT4.

Dr Goberdhan said: ‘We found that aggressive cancer cells manufacture more PAT4, which enables them to make better use of available nutrients than the cells around them – including healthy tissue.’

Cancer cells often have restricted access to the body’s nutrient-rich blood supply. The ability to sense and acquire nutrients is critical for a cancer to grow.

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