The Princeton Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research focuses on cancer metabolism. It aims to build scientific understanding to target metabolism with diet and drugs to prevent and treat cancer. Cancer metabolism involves interplay between tumor, host, microbiome, and immune metabolism. The Branch will unravel this interplay quantitatively, building new technologies to do so.

Why cancer metabolism?

The motivation for studying cancer metabolism is robust:

  • Antimetabolites – such as pemetrexed (Alimta), discovered at Princeton – are among the most important anticancer agents
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose PET imaging (FDG-PET), based on cancer’s avidity for sugar, is the best way to detect and track many tumors
  • Obesity is a major cancer risk factor
  • Metabolic wasting (cachexia) is the ultimate cause of death for many cancer patients

Given the central role of metabolism in cancer, every cancer patient needs dietary guidance. But the knowledge to provide properly tailored guidance is lacking. The right diet may depend on the patient’s tumor type or therapy, with the effectiveness of both chemotherapy and immunotherapy likely gated by host metabolism. The Branch will identify and overcome these metabolic barriers, paving the way to long-term survival for even the hardest to treat cancers.

Leveraging the power of collaboration to advance cancer research

To achieve these goals, the Branch will tap into the deep scientific expertise at Princeton. Current collaborations with faculty span across five departments. These collaborations aim to catalyze new research on cancer metabolism, while also helping to accelerate the application of transformative basic science advances made at Princeton. The Branch is also establishing programs to tap into the extraordinarily talented Princeton student body, including new research opportunities for undergraduates.

The clinical translation of Branch discoveries will be conducted in partnership with RWJBarnabas Health and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only U.S. National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.  In addition the partnership expands to the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, as well as to more distant clinical collaborations to address key questions. These collaborations bring the scientific reach and clinical expertise required to fulfill the Branch’s mission.