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The Warburg Effect and Drug Resistance (British Journal of Pharmacology, Dec 2015)

Bhaskar Bhattacharya1, Mohd Feroz Mohd Omar2 and Richie Soong1,2

1Cancer Science Institute of Singapore, National University of Singapore, Singapore
2Department of Pathology, National University of Singapore, Singapore


The Warburg effect describes the increased utilization of glycolysis rather than oxidative phosphorylation by tumour cells for their energy requirements under physiological oxygen conditions. This effect has been the basis for much speculation on the survival advantage of tumour cells, tumourigenesis and the microenvironment of tumours. More recently, studies have begun to reveal how the Warburg effect could influence drug efficacy and how our understanding of tumour energetics could be exploited to improve drug development. In particular, evidence is emerging demonstrating how better modelling of the tumour metabolic microenvironment could lead to a better prediction of drug efficacy and the identification of new combination strategies. This review will provide details of the current understanding of the complex interplay between glucosemetabolism and pharmacology and discuss opportunities for utilizing the Warburg effect in future drug development.