Published: May 2009
An article in the December 2008 Journal of Lipid Research coauthored by Biology Professor Thomas Seyfried, links cancerous tumors to abnormalities in a complex lipid called cardiolipin. The research reflects new interest among scientists in the work of German physician and biochemist Otto Warburg, who won the Nobel Prize in 1931 for his studies in the field of cell biology. According to Warburg, “Cancer has only one prime cause. It is the replacement of normal oxygen respiration of the body’s cells by an anaerobic [without oxygen] cell respiration.” Warburg’s theory fell out of favor (supplanted by focus on genetic mutation as the cause of cancer) because, says Seyfried, “there was no biochemical evidence that would directly support his theory. Our work provides that evidence.”
Seyfried is part of a research team that includes scientists from Boston College and Washington University School of Medicine. Interviewed by @BC in his Higgins Hall laboratory on April 22, he discussed Warburg, the engines of cell metabolism, and the team’s ongoing work to understand cancer.