What is it about?
In recent years, we've made significant progress in understanding a phenomenon called the 'Warburg effect' in cancer cell biology. We now know that not all cancer cells follow this pattern, as many also have functional mitochondria. Cancer cells primarily focus their energy metabolism on processes that support rapid growth. Changes in how cancer cells metabolize carbohydrates, amino acids, and lipids are recognized as critical factors in cancer development. These metabolic changes are primarily linked to genetic reprogramming, where healthy cells transform into cancerous ones. This extensive research into cancer cell metabolism has given rise to new therapeutic approaches aimed at disrupting abnormal metabolism and influencing genetic reprogramming in cancer cells.
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
Why is it important?
Ever since we discovered how cancer cells change their metabolism, there's been a lot of interest in understanding how these cells work. The main idea is to find better ways to treat cancer. It turns out that cancer cells often prefer a specific way of getting their energy (a process called "aerobic glycolysis" or the "Warburg effect"). But that's not the whole story. Some changes in how cancer cells use fatty acids and amino acids, like glutamine, serine, and glycine, also play a role in helping cancer cells grow and survive. On top of that, changes in certain genes (like proto-oncogenes and tumor suppressors) can lead to alterations in how cancer cells use nutrients to support things like cell growth, resistance to chemotherapy, and spreading to other parts of the body. So, if we learn more about how cancer cells work and how they get their energy, we might be able to develop drugs that target these processes. Finding the right therapy for different types of cancer is a tough journey, but we can learn from the past and explore new strategies that are more precise and less harmful to patients.
Read the Original
This page is a summary of: Pieces of the Complex Puzzle of Cancer Cell Energy Metabolism: An Overview of Energy Metabolism and Alternatives for Targeted Cancer Therapy, Current Medicinal Chemistry, June 2021, Bentham Science Publishers,
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