Over the last century, a broader interest in the topic of tumor metabolism has emerged. From the 1920s onward, when Otto Warburg proposed increased aerobic glycolysis of tumor cells, a deeper understanding has established that tumor cells have an altered metabolism which is directly linked to cancer progression. It was soon discovered that not only do environmental changes lead to alterations in metabolism but that oncogenes have a profound influence in these alterations. They not only induce nutrient uptake and synthesis of proteins and DNA but can lead to a switch toward glycolysis, which identifies them as a major player in tumor metabolism. These observations have raised the interest to target metabolic pathways for cancer therapy and, interestingly, some of the first discovered chemotherapeutics target metabolic pathways and are still in clinic. Concerns that these targets will also affect normal cells has intensified research to understand how changes in tumor metabolism promote tumor growth and which enzymes and signaling pathways are involved. These observations led to the discovery of new targets and drugs that specifically affect tumor metabolism and can exploit the dependence of tumor cells on the metabolic changes.
Part of the book: Cell Death