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Poetry Brings Science to Life: Autophagy and Cancer

By: , Posted on: October 16, 2014

Autophagy and Cancer

When speaking of cancer, autophagy’s good

By culling mitochondria and clearing deadwood

Autophagy limits the radical chain

That breaks DNA and mutates a gene

That makes a cell double, so careless and mean

In order for cells to malignant transform

They lose mitochondria except for a few

Using glycolysis as the source of their fuel

How they achieve mitochondrial decimation

Is nothing more than autophagic elimination


Then one cell is many, an ominous mass

Demanding more glucose, hungry and crass,

Directing formation of artery and vein

Til capsular fibers give way under strain

Then cancer cells spread so far and so wide

They demand blood vessels the body provide

But until those are patent the tumor cells strive

To rely on autophagy to neatly survive

The hurdles required for metastasis

Until blood flow’s established for cancerous bliss.


Blocking autophagy sends them over the brink

And how chloroquine works, we think

But tumors are slowed by statin’s effects

Which induce autophagy and tumor cell death

Autophagy’s good, autophagy’s bad

The confusion’s enough to drive us all mad

So study we must, and learn ever more

Til enlightenment finally opens the door

Oncologists must heed the tumor’s agenda

And decide whether autophagy is foe or a friend-a.

Roberta A. Gottlieb

Autophagy in Health and DiseaseDr. Roberta Gottlieb, Elsevier author of Autophagy in Health and Disease, epitomizes the passion and intensity with which researchers and contributors are approaching the study of autophagy, as she composes unique poems to accompany the volumes of an exciting, cutting-edge series on the subject.

Autophagy in Health and Disease offers an overview of the latest research in autophagy with a translational emphasis. This publication takes scientific research in autophagy a step further and offers integrated content with advancements in autophagy from cell biology and biochemical research to clinical treatments. It offers an up-to-date overview of autophagy with a translational focus, organized by organ, tissue and disease process.


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