Mitochondria & Cancer
Mitochondria are unique organelles, with an ancient bacterial lineage and their own DNA, that function to generate energy-rich molecules and metabolites. Mitochondrial function is coordinated tightly with the nucleus in a bidirectional mechanism. The consequences of communication between these organelles affect not only the cancer cell but the complex interplay among the tumor cells, the tumor cell microenvironment, and the immune system.
Madera develops new cancer therapeutics to selectively target mitochondrial processes and exploit the differential effects of these functions in cancer cells (bulk and CSCs) versus normal cells.
Specific changes in a cancer cell’s metabolism and the resulting coordination of these functions within the tumor microenvironment underpin cancer progression and metastasis. These adaptations provide an advantage for the tumor yet force cancer cells to be highly reliant on certain metabolic processes. As such, tumor cells lack the flexibility in nutrient use seen in normal cells, providing a druggable vulnerability.
Madera’s therapeutic approach directly impacts cancer cell metabolism through the enhancement of protease activity in the mitochondria with small molecule therapeutics. This approach uniquely targets and disrupts the complex synergistic relationships that support tumor growth and survival.