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Mitochondria, Bioenergetics and Apoptosis in Cancer


Until recently, the dual roles of mitochondria in ATP production (bioenergetics) and apoptosis (cell life/death decision) were thought to be separate. New evidence points to a more intimate link between these two functions, mediated by the remodeling of the mitochondrial ultrastructure during apoptosis. While most of the key molecular players that regulate this process have been identified (primarily membrane proteins), the exact mechanisms by which they function are not yet understood. Because resistance to apoptosis is a hallmark of cancer, and because ultimately all chemotherapies are believed to result directly or indirectly in induction of apoptosis, a better understanding of the biophysical processes involved may lead to new avenues for therapy.

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