Metabolic re-programming to aerobic glycolysis, known as the Warburg effect, allows cancer cells and some types of activated immune cells (e.g., macrophages and T-cells) an efficient conversion of glucose to biomass and energy required for rapid cell growth and proliferation. Hexokinase 2 (HK2), which catalyzes the first step of glucose metabolism, is a metabolic checkpoint for this process, and is selectively over-expressed in cancer and activated immune cells. The association of HK2 with the mitochondria (via the VDAC channel) results in prevention of cell death and supports proliferation. Vidac platform technology focuses on novel small-molecule drugs that modulate the HK2 metabolic checkpoint, detaching it from the mitochondria. Preclinical data show that Vidac’s metabolic checkpoint modulators destroy cancer cells and improve immune responses against tumors.
HK2 in Cancer