News Releases

Ludwig study establishes cancer-driving role of enzyme that alters the membrane of cancer cells

July 12, 2019, New York—A Ludwig Cancer Research study has identified an enzyme involved in remodeling the cell membrane of cancer cells that is critical to both the survival and uncontrolled growth of multiple types of tumors.

The study, led by Ludwig San Diego’s Paul Mischel and published in the July 11, 2019, issue of Cell Metabolism, suggests a potential target for new cancer therapies.

In collaboration with the laboratory of Benjamin Cravatt, a professor at The Scripps Research Institute, Mischel and his colleagues identified an enzyme called LPCAT1 whose levels increase in cancer and which plays a key role in tumor growth by subtly altering the chemical composition of the cancer cells’ plasma membrane, allowing aberrant growth factor signals to spur tumor growth.

Without LPCAT1, tumors cannot survive. When researchers genetically depleted LPCAT1 in multiple types of cancer in mice, including highly lethal glioblastomas (a type of brain tumor) and an aggressive lung cancer, malignancies shrank significantly and survival times improved.

The results suggest LPCAT1 is an important enzyme that is dysregulated in cancer, linking common genetic alterations in tumors to changes in their metabolism to drive aggressive tumor growth.

“These results also suggest that LPCAT1 may be a very compelling new drug target in a wide variety of cancer types,” said Mischel.

The UC San Diego, release from which this summary is derived can be found here.


About Ludwig Cancer Research

Ludwig Cancer Research is an international collaborative network of acclaimed scientists that has pioneered cancer research and landmark discovery for more than 40 years. Ludwig combines basic science with the ability to translate its discoveries and conduct clinical trials to accelerate the development of new cancer diagnostics and therapies. Since 1971, Ludwig has invested $2.7 billion in life-changing science through the not-for-profit Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and the six U.S.-based Ludwig Centers. To learn more, visit

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