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Metabolic flexibility in cell systems

The research group lead by Hanne R. Hagland studies metabolic flexibility in cell systems.

HRH Research Group Photo Hanne R, Hagland research group photo at CCBIO Symposium 2017. Left to right: Tia Tidwell, Martin Watson, Ansooya Bokil, Julie Nikolaisen, Abdelnour Alhourani; Center: Hanne Hagland. Photographer: Ingvild Festervoll Melien

There are two main pathways for a mammalian cell to utilize substrates for ATP production or biomolecule intermediate production, namely the glycolysis pathway and the mitochondrial pathway.

Her research addresses how these pathways contribute to cancer growth and how metabolites are directly involved in gene regulation.  

Tumors are generally very heterogeneous in gene and protein expression. However, there is one commonality to all fast growing cells and that is the need for glucose and glutamine to be able to supply the cells with building blocks for growth.

Cancer treatment

Hagland found that some cancer cells can utilize more varied substrates, whereas others depend on glucose to survive.  This glucose dependence is reflected in the metabolic read out of the cells and is due to mutations in certain growth pathways.  

Finding which cells are glycolytic and which are not will give us an idea of how to treat these cancer types.

Protein regulation

Hanne R. Hagland's research involves investigating how cancer cells maintain such a high glycolytic flux, and how the mitochondria play a role in these processes.

She found that under cellular stress, uncoupling proteins (UCP) can modulate the mitochondria to cope with the requirement of metabolic flux, and this is not coupled to ATP production. Not a lot is known about the regulation of uncoupling proteins and her research interest is to find how these proteins are regulated in different cancer types. 

Medical research 

Hanne R. Hagland collaborates with a Gastrosurgical Research group at Stavanger University Hospital working on colorectal cancer.

Currently patients are being enrolled in a study, giving written consent to donate blood and tissue material to a biobank named ACROBATICC. The aim is to find biomarkers of prognostic or diagnostic use that could aid in the administration of the disease.  

Herein is the study of epigenetic regulation of genes in normal versus cancerous tissue an area of interest as these regulations may be attributed to a shift in metabolic pathways.  

Group Members

  • Julie Nikolaisen, Engineer
  • Tia Tidwell, PhD student
  • Adbelnour Alhourani, PhD student
  • Ansooya Bokil, Master Student (2016-2017)

Collaborators and affiliations