Cambridge, MA ? May, 21, 2009 ? Agios Pharmaceuticals, the first biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing novel cancer metabolism drugs, announced that the leading scientific journal Science has published a review article, “Understanding the Warburg Effect: The Metabolic Requirements of Cell Proliferation,” authored by two of its founders, Lewis C. Cantley, Ph.D., Director of the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Professor of Systems Biology and Craig B. Thompson, M.D., Director, Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania, and one of its scientific advisors, Matthew Vander Heiden, M.D., Ph.D., Instructor of Medicine, Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School.
“As this review highlights, there is an incredible opportunity in front of us to bring together decades of independent cancer and metabolic scientific research into an integrated approach to novel cancer therapies,” said Dr. Vander Heiden, Agios scientific advisor. “It is exciting to see the broad scientific engagement that is driving this field rapidly forward to ultimately provide new options for physician and their patients.”
Cancer metabolism is a new and exciting field of biology that represents a breakthrough understanding of how cancer cells become addicted to using more nutrients than normal cells to ensure their survival and growth. The new understanding of a fundamental mechanism of cancer growth and survival represents a powerful Achilles’ heel to target this deadly disease.
The Science review article summarizes the current state of the emerging biological field of cancer metabolism and suggests that “a better understanding of anabolic cellular metabolism and how growth control impacts its regulation may lead to new targets and improved therapy for human cancer.” The review, which provides a meta-analysis of the field, highlights key advancements ranging from Otto Warburg’s discovery in 1929, that cancer cells utilize sugar differently than normal cells, to a 2008 study published in the journal Nature showing that cancer cells ‘switch on’ the same highly active metabolizing enzymes as those found in fetal cells to promote rapid growth. This latter finding explains why cancer cells are able to divide and grow better than normal cells.
The vision of Agios is to lead the development and translation of cancer metabolism biology and decades of metabolic biochemistry into novel cancer therapeutics that will make a difference for patients. To date, Agios has put in place a world-class scientific team of more than 40 people, built a fully integrated cell metabolism platform within the largest research laboratory dedicated to cancer metabolism and created an emerging product development pipeline of novel Cancer Metabolism drugs.
“The Agios team, pipeline, platform and business strategy that we have built in a short time is exclusively focused on developing a deep biological understanding of the nexus of cancer and metabolism as the key driver behind where, when and how to cripple and kill a cancer cell,” said Michael Su, Ph.D., Agios co-founder and Vice President, Drug Discovery. “This Science review, along with many other recent scientific advancements, continues to highlight the significance of the field and Agios’ unique ability and position to lead the therapeutic exploration of cancer metabolism.”
About Cancer Metabolism
Cancer metabolism is a new and exciting field of biology that provides a novel approach to treating cancer. Cancer cell metabolism is marked by profound changes in nutrient requirements and usage to ensure cell proliferation and survival. Research in the field has demonstrated that cancer cells become addicted to certain fuel sources and metabolic pathways. In cancer, this metabolic reprogramming is coordinated with proliferative signaling and regulated by the same oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes to ensure efficient proliferation. Glycolysis (sugar metabolism), fatty acid metabolism and autophagy (self metabolism) are three pathways shown to play a critical role in cancer metabolism. Identifying and disrupting certain enzymes in these, and perhaps other, metabolic pathways provides a powerful intervention point for discovery and development of cancer therapeutics.
About Agios Pharmaceuticals
Agios Pharmaceuticals is the first biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development of novel therapeutics in the emerging field of cancer metabolism, which represents a breakthrough understanding of how cancer cells adapt to use more nutrients than normal cells to promote their survival and growth. Agios’ primary focus is in oncology, but the company’s platform will also be applicable to other therapeutics areas including autoimmune, inflammatory and neurological diseases. The Company’s founders represent the core thought leaders in the field of cancer metabolism, responsible for key advances, insights and discoveries in the field. Agios Pharmaceuticals is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For more information, please visit the company’s website at www.agios.com.