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Pharm Res. 2011 Nov;28(11):2731-44. doi: 10.1007/s11095-011-0584-5. Epub 2011 Sep 15.

Mitochondrial metabolism inhibitors for cancer therapy.

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Prince of Wales Clinical School, Lowy Cancer Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.


Cancer cells catabolise nutrients in a different way than healthy cells. Healthy cells mainly rely on oxidative phosphorylation, while cancer cells employ aerobic glycolysis. Glucose is the main nutrient catabolised by healthy cells, while cancer cells often depend on catabolism of both glucose and glutamine. A key organelle involved in this altered metabolism is mitochondria. Mitochondria coordinate the catabolism of glucose and glutamine across the cancer cell. Targeting mitochondrial metabolism in cancer cells has potential for the treatment of this disease. Perhaps the most promising target is the hexokinase-voltage dependent anion channel-adenine nucleotide translocase complex that spans the outer- and inner-mitochondrial membranes. This complex links glycolysis, oxidative phosphorylation and mitochondrial-mediated apoptosis in cancer cells. This review discusses cancer cell mitochondrial metabolism and the small molecule inhibitors of this metabolism that are in pre-clinical or clinical development.

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