Metabolic cancer biology: structural-based analysis of cancer as a metabolic disease, new sights and opportunities for disease treatment

Semin Cancer Biol. 2015 Feb;30:21-9. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2014.01.007. Epub 2014 Feb 2.


The cancer cell metabolism or the Warburg effect discovery goes back to 1924 when, for the first time Otto Warburg observed, in contrast to the normal cells, cancer cells have different metabolism. With the initiation of high throughput technologies and computational systems biology, cancer cell metabolism renaissances and many attempts were performed to revise the Warburg effect. The development of experimental and analytical tools which generate high-throughput biological data including lots of information could lead to application of computational models in biological discovery and clinical medicine especially for cancer. Due to the recent availability of tissue-specific reconstructed models, new opportunities in studying metabolic alteration in various kinds of cancers open up. Structural approaches at genome-scale levels seem to be suitable for developing diagnostic and prognostic molecular signatures, as well as in identifying new drug targets. In this review, we have considered these recent advances in structural-based analysis of cancer as a metabolic disease view. Two different structural approaches have been described here: topological and constraint-based methods. The ultimate goal of this type of systems analysis is not only the discovery of novel drug targets but also the development of new systems-based therapy strategies.

Keywords: Cancer; Cancer treatment; Flux balance analysis; Genome-scale modeling; Metabolic networks; Topological analysis; Warburg effect.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Systems Biology / methods*
  • Systems Biology / trends