Metabolic features of cancer treatment resistance

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A major barrier to achieving durable remission and a definitive cure in oncology patients is the emergence of tumor resistance, a common outcome of different disease types, and independent from the therapeutic approach undertaken. In recent years, subpopulations of slow-cycling cells endowed with enhanced tumorigenic potential and multidrug resistance have been isolated in different tumors, and mounting experimental evidence suggests these resistant cells are responsible for tumor relapse. An in-depth metabolic characterization of resistant tumor stem cells revealed that they rely more on mitochondrial respiration and less on glycolysis than other tumor cells, a finding that challenges the assumption that tumors have a primarily glycolytic metabolism and defective mitochondria. The demonstration of a metabolic program in resistant tumorigenic cells that may be present in the majority of tumors has important therapeutic implications and is a critical consideration as we address the challenge of identifying new vulnerabilities that might be exploited therapeutically.




Viale, A., & Draetta, G. F. (2016). Metabolic features of cancer treatment resistance. In Recent Results in Cancer Research (Vol. 207, pp. 135–156). Springer New York LLC.

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