The UCLouvain teams have been working on the subject for a while. Already in 2016, they highlighted the important source of energy that fats represent for the most aggressive cancer cells.
Today, they have successfully identified the TGF-beta2 factor. They discovered that it is responsible for both the storage of fat but also the aggressive nature found in cancer cells. They also made the disturbing discovery that these two processes are mutually reinforcing. Accumulating lipids thus allows cancer cells to build up energy reserves which they can mobilize according to their needs.
Researchers have also just demonstrated that the acidity present in tumors facilitates their development by promoting TGF-beta2. Cancer cells can then resist and move better. It is a bit like a mountaineer who would carry his equipment allowing him to survive in extreme conditions. He will manage to reach the summits despite difficult weather conditions.
This new research also makes it possible to envisage new therapeutic avenues, in particular through the identification of molecules which block the transport of fatty acids. Molecules that are also used currently to treat obesity, hence the idea of considering extending their medicinal use to patients who have metastases.