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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 873175, 13 pages
Review Article

Emerging Glycolysis Targeting and Drug Discovery from Chinese Medicine in Cancer Therapy

School of Chinese Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Estates Building, 10 Sassoon Road, Hong Kong

Received 31 December 2011; Revised 28 May 2012; Accepted 12 June 2012

Academic Editor: Francesca Borrelli

Copyright © 2012 Zhiyu Wang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Molecular-targeted therapy has been developed for cancer chemoprevention and treatment. Cancer cells have different metabolic properties from normal cells. Normal cells mostly rely upon the process of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation to produce energy whereas cancer cells have developed an altered metabolism that allows them to sustain higher proliferation rates. Cancer cells could predominantly produce energy by glycolysis even in the presence of oxygen. This alternative metabolic characteristic is known as the “Warburg Effect.” Although the exact mechanisms underlying the Warburg effect are unclear, recent progress indicates that glycolytic pathway of cancer cells could be a critical target for drug discovery. With a long history in cancer treatment, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is recognized as a valuable source for seeking bioactive anticancer compounds. A great progress has been made to identify active compounds from herbal medicine targeting on glycolysis for cancer treatment. Herein, we provide an overall picture of the current understanding of the molecular targets in the cancer glycolytic pathway and reviewed active compounds from Chinese herbal medicine with the potentials to inhibit the metabolic targets for cancer treatment. Combination of TCM with conventional therapies will provide an attractive strategy for improving clinical outcome in cancer treatment.