Cancer Proliferation and Therapy: The Warburg Effect and Quantum Metabolism

Theor Biol Med Model. 2010 Jan 19;7:2. doi: 10.1186/1742-4682-7-2.


Background: Most cancer cells, in contrast to normal differentiated cells, rely on aerobic glycolysis instead of oxidative phosphorylation to generate metabolic energy, a phenomenon called the Warburg effect.

Model: Quantum metabolism is an analytic theory of metabolic regulation which exploits the methodology of quantum mechanics to derive allometric rules relating cellular metabolic rate and cell size. This theory explains differences in the metabolic rates of cells utilizing OxPhos and cells utilizing glycolysis. This article appeals to an analytic relation between metabolic rate and evolutionary entropy - a demographic measure of Darwinian fitness - in order to: (a) provide an evolutionary rationale for the Warburg effect, and (b) propose methods based on entropic principles of natural selection for regulating the incidence of OxPhos and glycolysis in cancer cells.

Conclusion: The regulatory interventions proposed on the basis of quantum metabolism have applications in therapeutic strategies to combat cancer. These procedures, based on metabolic regulation, are non-invasive, and complement the standard therapeutic methods involving radiation and chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Genetic Fitness / physiology
  • Glycolysis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation
  • Quantum Theory*