Researchers have found that obesity is a significant risk factor for cancer and they are still untangling the relationship. While White’s study doesn’t directly address the matter, he says it does show a concrete link between lipids and cancer growth. In that sense, it adds one piece to what is likely a very large puzzle.
Whether altering one’s diet to consume less fats might forestall melanoma progression is another open question, one the team is interested in exploring further.
The study shows the utility of model systems like zebrafish for studying cancer, and the advantage of a place like MSK, where basic scientists and clinicians can easily collaborate. MSK melanoma specialists Jedd Wolchok, Charlotte Ariyan, Travis Hollmann and Paul Chapman collaborated on the project.
“We started this in the zebrafish and were able to take it all the way through to human tissues,” White says. “It would have been tough to pull this off at another institution.”
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award (DP2CA186572), the Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (K08AR055368), the Melanoma Research Alliance, the Pershing Square Sohn Foundation, the Alan and Sandra Gerry Metastasis Research Initiative at Memorial Sloan Kettering, the Harry J. Lloyd Foundation and Consano, the Starr Cancer Consortium, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Translational Research Oncology Training Program fellowship, and National Cancer Institute F32 Postdoctoral Training Grant (CA210536-01A1).