Cancer Metabolism


Cancer Metabolism

Our research group investigates the rewiring of metabolism in cancer cells, which is essential for tumor initiation and progression. Many of the features that distinguish cancer cells from normal cells—aberrant proliferation, survival, migration, and cell fate control—are either directly controlled by cell metabolism or amenable to regulation by specific metabolites. Various metabolic enzymes and metabolites harbor non-canonical functions to support malignant transformation. Select metabolites can also regulate gene and protein expression and influence the behavior of non-transformed cells in the tumor vicinity via extracellular crosstalk. To study metabolic alterations in cancer cells, we apply advanced model systems and metabolomic analyses, combined with biochemical and cell biological approaches. 


The lab houses the Utrecht Metabolism Expertise Centre (MEC), which performs state-of-the-art mass spectrometry based metabolomics and lipidomics to identify and quantify small-molecule metabolites in biological systems. Fluxomics experiments using isotope labeled substrates provide a highly dynamic understanding of cellular metabolism. The MEC also offers full metabolomics support for external collaborators.


The group focuses on liver cancer and develops advanced model systems that allow to study the metabolism in different cell types that are derived from organoids, primary cells, and cell lines. This includes the development of a NASH-in-a-dish system, a co-culture system to study hepatocellular carcinoma, and investigations on hepatic stellate cells, key liver cells in the onset of liver fibrosis and present in the tumor microenvironment as cancer-associated fibroblasts. Our knowledge on cancer metabolism is applied to other types of cancers as well, in collaboration with others. For more detailed information visit our research pages.