#110 - Lew Cantley, Ph.D.: Cancer metabolism, cancer therapies, and the discovery of PI3K

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By Peter Attia, MD, Peter Attia, and MD. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

In this episode, Lew Cantley, Professor of cancer biology and Director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medical College in NYC, walks us through his amazing discovery of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) and the implications for the care of patients with cancer. He explains various combinations of therapies being tested and used, including the possibility of pairing prescriptive nutritional therapies to increase the efficacy of drugs like PI3K inhibitors. Lew also explains the metabolic nature of cancer through the lens of his research into the connection between sugar consumption, insulin resistance, and tumor growth. Additionally, Lew provides some details about his exciting new clinical trial that is just now enrolling patients with stage 4 breast cancer and endometrial cancer.

We discuss:

  • Teaching science through the lens of discovery—A better approach to learning science [5:15];
  • The metabolic nature of cancer, mitochondria, and a more nuanced explanation of the Warburg Effect [8:30];
  • The observation that convinced Lew to stop eating sugar [20:15];
  • The connection between obesity, insulin resistance, and cancer [25:30];
  • Sugar consumption and tumor growth—What did Lew’s 2019 paper find? [32:00];
  • Natural sugar vs. HFCS, fruit vs. fruit juice, insulin response and cancer growth [43:00];
  • Increasing efficacy of PI3K inhibitors with ketogenic diets, SGLT2 inhibitors, and metformin [53:30];
  • Lew’s clinical trial enrolling stage 4 breast cancer and endometrial cancer patients [1:07:30];
  • Pairing diet with drug could be the future of cancer treatment [1:09:30];
  • PI3K inhibitors on the market, alpha vs. delta isoform, and the possibility of pairing them with a food prescription [1:16:15];
  • What questions will Lew be focused on in the next chapter of his career? [1:22:15];
  • Lew's early work that ultimately led to the discovery of PI3K [1:27:30];
  • Studying the mechanism by which mitochondria make ATP [1:30:45];
  • How understanding the mechanism by which insulin drove glucose uptake into a cell got Lew closer to finding PI3K [1:38:15];
  • How Lew knew PI3K was important in driving the growth of cancer cells [1:55:00];
  • Lew’s unlikely observation of phosphorylation at the 3' position of the inositol ring resulting in the formation of phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate [1:59:00]; and
  • More.

Learn more: https://peterattiamd.com/ Show notes page for this episode: https://peterattiamd.com/lewcantley/ Subscribe to receive exclusive subscriber-only content: https://peterattiamd.com/subscribe/ Sign up to receive Peter's email newsletter: https://peterattiamd.com/newsletter/ Connect with Peter on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

193 episodes