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J Bioenerg Biomembr. 2012 Dec;44(6):615-7. doi: 10.1007/s10863-012-9470-z.

Mitochondria in relation to cancer metastasis: introduction to a mini-review series.

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Department of Biological Chemistry and Oncology, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, and Center for Metabolism and Obesity Research, School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


This introductory article and those that follow focus on the roles that mitochondria may have in cancer metastasis (spreading) that all too frequently leads to death of cancer patients. The history of cancer dates back in time to several thousand years BC and continues to this day. Although billions of dollars have been invested, numerous cancer researchers/scientists and oncologist located at universities, hospitals, cancer centers, commercial entities (companies), and government agencies have been unable to discover "magic bullets" to quickly silence most cancers. That is, agents that are effective not only in eradicating the primary tumor at its site of origin, but eradicating also distant tumors that have arisen therefrom via metastatic cells. Fortunately, in recent years some researchers have obtained evidence that the mitochondria of cancer cells are involved not only in providing in part the necessary energy (ATP) to fuel their growth, but hold the secrets to their immortality, and propensity to metastasize (spread) from their original site of origin to other body locations. This introductory article, as well as those that follow, focus on the possible roles of mitochondria in cancer metastasis as well as strategies to arrest cancer metastasis based on this knowledge. Ideally, for a patient to become "cancer free" the anticancer agent/agents used must 1) eradicate the primary tumor at its site of origin, 2) eradicate any tumors at other body locations that have arisen via metastasis, and 3) eradicate any tumor cells that remain in the blood, i.e., circulating tumor cells. One such agent that holds promise for doing all three is the small molecule 3-bromopyruvate (3BP) discovered in the author's laboratory by Dr. Young H. Ko near the turn of the century to be a potent anti-cancer agent [Ko et al.(2001) Can Lett 173:83-91].

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