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Noble and Greenough School
Dedham, MA

Tsz-Leung To
Metabolism Program 

According to the empirical Warburg Effect, cancer cells have been observed to rely more heavily than normal on glycolysis rather than oxidation phosphorylation for ATP production, even when the cancer cells’ mitochondria have perfect function.  One school of thought for battling cancer relies on exploiting the Warburg Effect—if we shut down glycolysis, can we cause cancer cells to starve to death? Lev pursued this reasoning as his BSSP project.  He measured both the rate of glycolysis and the rate of oxidative phosphorylation in cancer cells with glycolytic gene knockouts.  Compared to a wild type cancer cell line, the two knockouts showed decreased rates of glycolysis and little changes in oxidative phosphorylation, consistent with the Warburg Effect.  Lev then conducted a cell death assay and an oxidative stress assay, showing that the cell lines with the glycolytic knockouts died more on average and sometimes showed increased oxidative stress—the latter result which possibly suggests a mechanism for the cell death.

“This summer experience has definitely influenced my decision to pursue additional opportunities in science. BSSP has shown me that wet lab research is a field I would strongly consider going into, and has confirmed that I want to choose a scientific major in college,” Lev said. Besides doing research, Lev also enjoyed building relationships with the other students in the BSSP cohort. "From activities after work to simply getting lunch together, I felt as if I had found an extremely accepting group that shared interests similar to my own."