Glucose metabolism starts with the conversion of glucose to pyruvate in the glycolysis pathway. Pyruvate is then channeled to the mitochondria and further metabolized, leading to the production of vast amounts of ATP - the cell’s energy currency. In presence of oxygen, most cells primarily rely on oxidative phosphorylation in mitochondria to generate the energy needed for all cellular processes. Since this process is very effective, glycolysis rates are rather low. When oxygen levels are low, for example in muscle cells after intensive training, pyruvate is not further metabolized in the mitochondria but converted to lactate in the cytosol. This process is termed anaerobic glycolysis.

In contrast to normal cells, many cancer cells exhibit high rates of glucose uptake and are hallmarked by high glycolysis rates. The produced pyruvate is not channeled into oxidative phosphorylation but is fermented to lactate, even in presence of sufficient amounts of oxygen. This phenomenon is known as the Warburg effect or aerobic glycolysis. It is believed that the shift to lactate fermentation equips cancer cells with growth advantages, the possibility to incorporate more biomass for cell proliferation, and to produce ATP in an oxygen-independent manner.

Arctic Pharma takes advantage of our broad experience in early drug discovery and utilizes modern technology combined with highly skilled personnel. This includes enzyme assay development, X-ray crystallography, computer-assisted drug design and advanced medicinal chemistry, as well as cell-based assays and biophysical evaluation of the drug candidates.