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From Metabolism To Genetics And Vice Versa: The Rising Role Of Oncometabolites In Cancer Development And Therapy

Emanuela Di Di Gregorio, Gianmaria Miolo, Asia Saorin, Agostino Steffan, Giuseppe Corona

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Over the last decades, the study of cancer metabolism has returned to the forefront of cancer research and challenged the role of genetics in the understanding of cancer development. One of the major impulses of this new trend came from the discovery of oncometabolites, metabolic intermediates whose abnormal cellular accumulation triggers oncogenic signalling and tumorigenesis. These findings have led to reconsideration and support for the long-forgotten hypothesis of Warburg of altered metabolism as oncogenic driver of cancer and started a novel paradigm whereby mitochondrial metabolites play a pivotal role in malignant transformation. In this review, we describe the evolution of the cancer metabolism research from a historical perspective up to the oncometabolites discovery that spawned the new vision of cancer as a metabolic disease. The oncometabolites’ mechanisms of cellular transformation and their contribution to the development of new targeted cancer therapies together with their drawbacks are further reviewed and discussed.