86359 - Cancer Metabolism

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2017/2018

Learning outcomes

The student will become familiar with the concept of cancer heterogeneity related to metabolism, understand genetic, molecular and biochemical mechanisms leading to metabolism-guided cancer resistance, and acquire means of identification of such conditions. The course will describe non-canonical concepts currently emerging in oncology, and associated methodologies for their investigation, which go beyond oncogene/tumor suppressor definitions to explaining cancer insurgence, such as double-faced nature of mutations arising in the same gene, but resulting in opposite effects on the disease outcome.

Course contents

Cancer as a metabolic disease. Metabolic reprogramming in cancer cells: revisiting of the Warburg hypothesis; metabolic pathways activated by oncogene/tumor suppressor mutations; mitochondria and cancer; oncometabolites; mitochondrial mutations in cancer; the metabolic roles of non-canonical oncogenes and TSGs (oncojanus genes). Therapy and metabolically-driven cancer resistance. therapies targeting metabolism; metabolism-based cancer escape mechanisms; mitochondrial mutations in cancer resistance; selective pressures impinging on cancer cells; the role of microenvironment in cancer development and resistance. Cancer metabolic heterogeneity. Heterogeneity vs. clonal expansion; cell cooperation; the immune system response in cancer development; methodologies for the investigation of cancer heterogeneity: next generation sequencing, mitochondrial DNA mutation analysis, analyses of cell-cell interaction.


Tumor Cell Metabolism: Pathways, Regulation and Biology. Springer.

Selected scientific article from the literature.

Teaching methods

Lectures with ppt presentation. Class discussion on case studies and examples from the scientific literature.

The minimum attendance requirement to be admitted to the final exam is 66% of lessons. Students who fail to meet the minimum attendance requirement will not be admitted to the final exam of the course, and these optional 3 credits will not be given.

Professors may authorise excused absences upon receipt of proper justifying documentation, in case of illness or serious reasons. Excused absences do not count against a student’s attendance record to determine their minimum attendance requirement.

Assessment methods

Multiple choice questions.

Students will be given 18 questions with 3 or 4 possible answer each, only one of which correct. Six questions will therefore be asked for each of three main topics listed in the Course Programme.

Pass: Give >60% correct answers (11/18 answers).

No penalty for wrong answers, or answers not given.

Teaching tools

PPT slides; scientific articles on the topics dealt with during the course. Textbook (not compulsory).

Office hours

See the website of Giuseppe Gasparre