Researchers have long wondered why cancer cells and some bacteria power themselves with fermentation, an oxygen-free process that is less efficient than the aerobic process most cells prefer. Now, researchers may have an answer, Scientific American reports. To make energy with oxygen, cells need to produce large, expensive enzymes. The cellular machinery for fermentation is cheaper, making it the most efficient option for rapidly growing cells, the researchers reported this month in Nature, confirming an idea first floated in 2009. The findings have implications for cancer research, suggesting that drugs could target cells’ energy production processes to slow tumor growth.
Read our COVID-19 research and news.