Cancer cells, unlike healthy ones, use a fermentation process to break down sugar to create energy. This metabolic process is much less efficient and uses a lot more sugar than the oxygen conversion of healthy cells, and it’s known to cancer researchers as the Warburg effect. A recent study describes the mechanism behind this effect, and examines a potential way to target cancer cells by cutting off their sugar supply. Researchers found particular points where carbohydrate metabolism is controlled differently in cancer cells undergoing the Warburg Effect, and they homed in on a specific enzyme that controls the rate at which glucose is processed in cancer cells. Scientists then discovered that a molecule called koningic acid could block this enzyme, effectively cutting off the cancer cell’s energy supply.


Maria V. Liberti, Ziwei Dai, Suzanne E. Wardell, Joshua A. Baccile, Xiaojing Liu, Xia Gao, Robert Baldi, Mahya Mehrmohamadi, Marc O. Johnson, Neel S. Madhukar, Alexander A. Shestov, Iok I. Christine Chio, Olivier Elemento, Jeffrey C. Rathmell, Frank C. Schroeder, Donald P. McDonnell, Jason W. Locasale8,’Correspondence information about the author Jason W. Locasale

Senior author: 

Jason Locasale, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC, US, Email:

Canadian author:

Iok I. Christine Chio, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, US

Original paper published in Cell Metabolism on September 13, 2017.