Cellular Metabolism

Why we focus on Cellular Metabolism

Almost 100 years ago, Otto Warburg discovered the altered cellular metabolism of cancer cells: switching from oxidative phosphorylation to aerobic glycolysis (Warburg effect). Although quiet for many years, the field of cancer metabolism has experienced a revolution in the last decade.

Now recognised as one of the hallmarks of cancer, the metabolism field is rapidly evolving and expanding to unveil new pathways and molecular mechanisms beyond the Warburg effect; changes in the metabolism of sugars, lipids, amino acids and other sources of energy are now investigated as part of the phenomenon of metabolic rewiring in cancer.

As a result, new therapeutic approaches targeting cellular metabolism are being tested with varied success for different cancer types, expanding the range of current treatment options.

What we do

  • We use synthetic lethal approaches to target metabolic pathways in cancer
  • We investigate the mechanism of cell signaling, and how they contribute to the onset and progression of cancer and to the dysregulation of cell metabolism
  • We study the role of Arginine metabolism in cancer
  • We study how inflammation contributes to alter cellular metabolism during malignant transformation and in cancer
  • We use human embryonic stem cells as a model system to understand epigenetic and metabolic reprogramming in cancer
  • We study the contribution of the tumour suppressor LIMD1 in hypoxia and cellular metabolism
  • We investigate the metabolic features of pancreatic cancer stem cells in primary tumours and metastasis.

Key Publications

  • Allen et al. Prognostic and therapeutic impact of argininosuccinate synthetase 1 control in bladder cancer as monitored longitudinally by PET imaging. Cancer Res. 2014 Feb 1;74(3):896-907
  • Casado et al. Environmental stress affects the activity of metabolic and growth factor signaling networks and induces autophagy markers in MCF7 breast cancer cells. Mol Cell Proteomics. 2014 Mar;13(3):836-48.
  • Foxler at al. The LIMD1 protein bridges an association between the prolyl hydroxylases and VHL to repress HIF-1 activity. Nat Cell Biol. 2012 Jan 29;14(2):201-8
  • Sancho et al. MYC/PGC-1α Balance Determines the Metabolic Phenotype and Plasticity of Pancreatic Cancer Stem Cells. Cell Metab. 2015 Oct 6;22(4):590-605

Who does the research

→ Click here for senior researchers working on cellular metabolism

Major Funders

  • Cancer Research UK            
  • British Lung Foundation
  • Barts and the London Charity    
  • MRC
  • Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund
  • Pancreatic Cancer UK
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