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BC Biologists Work Toward Creating Theory of Cancer

a group of researchers led by professors t.seyfried and j.chuang found evidence supporting warburg theory of cancer



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Creating a theory of cancer origin that could help to prevent and treat the disease is one of the hottest topics of modern biology and medicine. The theory that cancer originated from irreversible injury to mitochondrial respiration was first proposed by Otto Warburg, but the structural basis for this injury has remained elusive. The Warburg theory describes cancer as a metabolic disease of cellular respiration and has since generated considerable debate and controversy in the field.

Another step toward creating a theory of the cancer origin was recently made in the BC’s Biology Department. A group of BC biologists, led by professors T. Seyfried and J. Chuang, has investigated properties of a complex phospholipid called cardiolipin (CL) in mouse brain tumors. It is known that abnormalities in CL can impair mitochondrial function and bioenergetics. The BC researchers have compared the cardiolipin content in normal mouse brains and in several types of brain tumors in mice. Major abnormalities in CL content or composition were found in all types of tumors. In order to facilitate data interpretation, a mathematical model was developed by the bioinformatics lab led by Jeff Chuang.

The newly developed theory of cardiolipin abnormalities found in mice tumors provide evidence linking these abnormalities to impaired energy metabolism and Warburg’s theory of cancer. It is an important step toward creating the theory of cancer origin. The results of these new findings appear on the December cover article of the Journal of Lipid Research.