Feb 2, 2021

Solving a 100-Year-Old Paradox: Why Cancer Cells Waste So Much Energy

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

MIT study sheds light on the longstanding question of why cancer cells get their energy from fermentation.

In the 1920s, German chemist Otto Warburg discovered that cancer cells don’t metabolize sugar the same way that healthy cells usually do. Since then, scientists have tried to figure out why cancer cells use this alternative pathway, which is much less efficient.

MIT biologists have now found a possible answer to this longstanding question. In a study appearing in Molecular Cell, they showed that this metabolic pathway, known as fermentation, helps cells to regenerate large quantities of a molecule called NAD+, which they need to synthesize DNA and other important molecules. Their findings also account for why other types of rapidly proliferating cells, such as immune cells, switch over to fermentation.

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