To Fight Cancer, Know the Enemy

James D. Watson in The New York Times:

Cancer The idea that cancer cells may be united in having a common set of molecules not found in most other cells of our bodies was first proposed by the great German biochemist Otto Warburg. In 1924, he observed that all cancer cells, irrespective of whether they were growing in the presence or absence of oxygen, produce large amounts of lactic acid. Yet it wasn’t until a year ago that the meaning of Warburg’s discovery was revealed: The metabolism of cancer cells, and indeed of all proliferating cells, is largely directed toward the synthesis of cellular building blocks from the breakdown products of glucose. To make this glucose breakdown run even faster in growing cells than in differentiated cells (that is, cells that have stopped growing and taken on their specialized functions in the body), the growth-promoting signal molecules turn up the levels of the “transporter” proteins that move glucose molecules into cells.

This discovery indicates that we need bold new efforts to see if drugs that specifically inhibit the key enzymes involved in this glucose breakdown have anti-cancer activity. In the late 1940s, when I was working toward my doctorate, the top dogs of biology were its biochemists, who were trying to discover how the intermediary molecules of metabolism were made and broken down.

More here. (Note: This posting is dedicated to our devoted reader Professor Winnfield J. Abbe who has been saying the same thing to the “Cancer Generals” for several years in multiple comments posted on this blog)