Scientists, led by Dr Elizabeth Stoll, from Newcastle University's Institute of Neuroscience, have discovered that gliomas rely on fatty acids to promote their growth.
Published today in the journal Neuro-oncolgy, the study used patient-donated tissue samples and tests on mice and showed that glioma cells grow more slowly if they are treated with etomoxir, a drug that prevents the tumour cells from making energy with fatty acids.
"Our results provide new insight into the fundamental biochemistry of cancer cells, with exciting implications for patients in the future," explained Dr Stoll.
"Most cells within the adult brain require sugars to produce energy and sustain function. Interestingly, we have discovered that malignant glioma cells have a completely different metabolic strategy as they actually prefer to break down fats to make energy.
"Our finding provides a new understanding of brain tumour biology, and a new potential drug target for fighting this type of cancer."
The next stage for Dr Stoll's team is to test these results in clinical trials and to test what they term as 'fatty acid metabolism' to slow brain tumour cell growth.
Find out more about the new research that we're funding.