Proton dynamics in cancer
Cancer remains a leading cause of death in the world today. Despite decades of research to identify novel therapeutic approaches, durable regressions of metastatic disease are still scanty and survival benefits often negligible. While the current strategy is mostly converging on target-therapies aimed at selectively affecting altered molecular pathways in tumor cells, evidences are in parallel pointing to cell metabolism as a potential Achilles' heel of cancer, to be disrupted for achieving therapeutic benefit. Critical differences in the metabolism of tumor versus normal cells, which include abnormal glycolysis, high lactic acid production, protons accumulation and reversed intra-extracellular pH gradients, make tumor site a hostile microenvironment where only cancer cells can proliferate and survive. Inhibiting these pathways by blocking proton pumps and transporters may deprive cancer cells of a key mechanism of detoxification and thus represent a novel strategy for a pleiotropic and multifaceted suppression of cancer cell growth.
Research groups scattered all over the world have recently started to investigate various aspects of proton dynamics in cancer cells with quite encouraging preliminary results. The intent of unifying investigators involved in this research line led to the formation of the "International Society for Proton Dynamics in Cancer" (ISPDC) in January 2010. This is the manifesto of the newly formed society where both basic and clinical investigators are called to foster translational research and stimulate interdisciplinary collaboration for the development of more specific and less toxic therapeutic strategies based on proton dynamics in tumor cell biology.