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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 165105, 9 pages
Review Article

Switching the Sphingolipid Rheostat in the Treatment of Diabetes and Cancer Comorbidity from a Problem to an Advantage

1The University of Queensland, The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, Translational Research Institute, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
2The Centenary Institute, Newtown, NSW, Australia
3Discipline of Dermatology, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW, Australia
4School of Medical and Molecular Biosciences, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, NSW 2007, Australia
5Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2050, Australia

Received 17 July 2014; Accepted 16 October 2014

Academic Editor: Anandwardhan Hardikar

Copyright © 2015 Nikolas K. Haass et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Cancer and diabetes are among the most common diseases in western societies. Epidemiological studies have shown that diabetic patients have a significantly higher risk of developing a number of different types of cancers and that individuals with comorbidity (cancer and diabetes/prediabetes) have a poorer prognosis relative to nondiabetic cancer patients. The increasing frequency of comorbidity of cancer and diabetes mellitus, mainly type 2 diabetes, has driven the development of therapeutic interventions that target both disease states. There is strong evidence to suggest that balancing the sphingolipid rheostat, ceramide—sphingosine—sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) is crucial in the prevention of diabetes and cancer and sphingosine kinase/S1P modulators are currently under development for the treatment of cancer and diabetes. This paper will highlight some of the complexities inherent in the use of the emerging sphingosine kinase/S1P modulators in the treatment of comorbidity of diabetes and cancer.