Theodore Lampidis, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Cell Biology and a member of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is a pioneer in the exploration of the intricate metabolism of glucose in cancer cells and the discovery of how to exploit this process by using simple sugars such as 2-Deoxyglucose (2-DG).
Background: Dr. Lampidis’ groundbreaking cancer research is founded on the following facts: Solid tumors (carcinomas) consist of an outer shell of fast-growing cells and an inner core of slow-growing cells. Although standard chemotherapy attacks the fast-dividing cells, it cannot distinguish between normal and cancerous cells. That is why cancer patients treated with chemotherapy lose their hair, suffer low blood counts, and experience diarrhea and vomiting. Those are the normal tissues in the body that contain the rapidly dividing cells.
The Problem: Since chemotherapy works by interfering with the dividing machinery of cells, it cannot effectively eliminate the slow-growing cells found within the inner core of all solid tumors. It is these slow-growing cancer cells which contribute to the regrowth of the outer cells after treatment. Most importantly, these inner core tumor cells are responsible for metastasis which leads to the spread of the tumor to various parts of the body. Fortunately, however, slow-growing tumor cells have inadequate blood supplies and thus low oxygen (hypoxia). This means they must use much more sugar than normal cells to provide the energy they need to survive, a process known as glycolysis.
The Solution: Dr. Lampidis hypothesized he could “trick” these hypoxic tumor cells by feeding them “false” sugars, such as 2-DG (2-deoxyglucose), to keep them from metabolizing the actual sugar they need to survive. Because they do not have the necessary oxygen to use fats and proteins as alternative sources of energy, they would literally “starve to death.” Meanwhile, the normal cells would survive because they do metabolize these alternate sources (think about the Atkins Diet – when you lower your intake of carbohydrates [sugars] you burn fats and proteins instead).
Success to date: Dr Lampidis’ eureka moment led to two consecutive five-year awards from the National Cancer Institute, which stated in the reviews of his research that “Dr. Lampidis’ work could eventually lead to cures in certain cancers.” Based on his work, an FDA approved Phase I clinical trial was conducted to determine the tolerable dose level of 2-DG. Before they progress to a Phase II clinical trial, further work is required to investigate and develop the most efficient drug delivery method, eg: slow release pump, pill or diet. In addition, working in collaboration with Dr. Tim Murray, a leading expert in the investigation and treatment of children with eye cancer (retinoblastoma) formally at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Dr. Lampidis and his colleagues have demonstrated that 2-DG raises the efficacy of the chemotherapeutic agent (carboplatin) used to treat this disease. Moreover, using pimonidazole, which identifies hypoxic tumor cells, they have provided the first proof of principle that indeed 2-DG, but not carboplatin, targets and kills the hypoxic portion of this tumor. Based on these very encouraging in vivo results, they plan to begin a pilot Phase I trial in patients whose eyes cannot be saved by current treatments.
Dr Theodore Lampidis: “I am convinced that the biochemical principles at the heart of our work are as fundamental as gravity. That is why I believe investigating tumor metabolism in general and glucose metabolism in particular, will lead to significant and real advances in the struggle we all one way or another face in fighting this devastating disease.”
We need your help: Our mission at the Lampidis Cancer Foundation is to bring the groundbreaking research of Dr. Theodore Lampidis through the clinical trial and testing phase so that this treatment protocol can begin to help those suffering from various types of cancer. If you are interested in supporting this vital work or would like to find out more, please visit www.lampidisfoundation.org or call us on +1.305.243.4846.