Cancer treatment by manipulation of mitochondria

Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, and to reduce this societal and economic burden new treatment options will be needed. Cancer cells show a distinct metabolism compared to normal cells, since they are optimized for enhanced growth rather than performing specific functions in the body. Mitochondria are small units in the cell that play a central role in regulating metabolism. Mitochondrial dysfunction cause a range of inherited metabolic diseases, and is involved in common diseases such as diabetes, neurodegeneration and cancer. Cancer cells are often more sensitive than healthy cells to mitochondrial dysfunction, and inhibition of mitochondrial function can therefore be a powerful method to treat cancer. Previous experiments in cell and animal models have shown that treatment of leukemia with an antibiotic that inhibits mitochondrial function in combination with established cancer drugs has synergistic effects. My group has developed a putative cancer drug based on manipulation of mitochondria, which has recently been licensed to a biotechnology company for further development and clinical phase I trials. In the current project, we will further explore the role of mitochondria in cancer metabolism, with the aim to develop a new concept for treatment of cancer by manipulation of mitochondria.

Project leader(s):
  • Nils-Göran Larsson (Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet)

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