The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research hosted its first virtual symposium on the topic of Metabolism and Cancer, focusing on the role of metabolic factors in carcinogenesis, tumor progression, and cancer therapy. As the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated new ways of bringing researchers together, this virtual event was our first in a series designed to engage the cancer research community in a temporarily distanced world.
In the 1920s, Otto Warburg and others made the surprising discovery that even when oxygen is plentiful, cancer cells meet their energy needs through the relatively inefficient pathway of aerobic glycolysis rather than oxidative phosphorylation. Now, nearly a century after the Warburg effect was described, the study of metabolism in cancer has expanded beyond the focus of metabolic changes in tumor cells themselves, to encompass the impact of metabolic alterations at a systemic level as well as in the local tumor microenvironment. The speakers, Lewis Cantley, PhD, of Weill Cornell Medicine, Marcia Haigis, PhD, of Harvard Medical School, and Greg Delgoffe, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh, described their research on how these changes present therapeutic opportunities to target aberrant metabolic pathways in tumors and priming our own immune system to destroy cancer cells.
The talks stimulated thought-provoking questions and discussions on the future of how studying metabolism will be employed to understand, diagnose, and treat cancer. And just as importantly, the event allowed the Mark Foundation research community to come together to maintain connections and exchange ideas in a time necessitating virtual communication.