Metabolic Scaling Laws in Cancer (METLAWS).

Scaling laws describe how a metabolic or geometrical feature of a living organism changes with its size. As a classic example, Kleiber’s law explains how the metabolism of an organism grows as a function of its size. It is remarkable that metabolism changes at a slower pace than size does, the result of the existence of an underlying hierarchical vessel network. No one knows what the scaling law in tumors is and whether it could provide information on their aggressiveness. Positron emission tomography (PET) provides a way to assess metabolism macroscopically and could be used to investigate metabolic scaling laws in tumors.

Where is it being implemented?

The protocol has been approved and is running at Hospital General Universitario de Ciudad Real.

What data do we collect?

Retrospective PET data from patients from different types of tumors: glioblastoma, lung cancer, colorectal, breast cancer. Public data of head and neck cancers from the TCIA databases.

What are the expected benefits for patients?

The metabolic scaling law found provides a reference that allows to define prognostic biomarkers. This research has also led to the development of another metabolic prognostic metric related to the location of the activity hotspot that has shown a stronger prognostic value than the classical metrics.

When will the results be available?

The metabolic scaling laws of human cancers and their implications were unveiled in a paper published in Nature Physics in 2020. The hotspot activity biomarker has been published in 2021. More research in the topic is under development.