Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 163–170

A translational study “case report” on the small molecule “energy blocker” 3-bromopyruvate (3BP) as a potent anticancer agent: from bench side to bedside

  • Y. H. Ko
  • H. A. Verhoeven
  • M. J. Lee
  • D. J. Corbin
  • T. J. Vogl
  • P. L. Pedersen
Open AccessArticle

DOI: 10.1007/s10863-012-9417-4

Cite this article as:
Ko, Y.H., Verhoeven, H.A., Lee, M.J. et al. J Bioenerg Biomembr (2012) 44: 163. doi:10.1007/s10863-012-9417-4


The small alkylating molecule, 3-bromopyruvate (3BP), is a potent and specific anticancer agent. 3BP is different in its action from most currently available chemo-drugs. Thus, 3BP targets cancer cells’ energy metabolism, both its high glycolysis (“Warburg Effect”) and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. This inhibits/ blocks total energy production leading to a depletion of energy reserves. Moreover, 3BP as an “Energy Blocker”, is very rapid in killing such cells. This is in sharp contrast to most commonly used anticancer agents that usually take longer to show a noticeable effect. In addition, 3BP at its effective concentrations that kill cancer cells has little or no effect on normal cells. Therefore, 3BP can be considered a member, perhaps one of the first, of a new class of anticancer agents. Following 3BP’s discovery as a novel anticancer agent in vitro in the Year 2000 (Published in Ko et al. Can Lett 173:83–91, 2001), and also as a highly effective and rapid anticancer agent in vivo shortly thereafter (Ko et al. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 324:269–275, 2004), its efficacy as a potent anticancer agent in humans was demonstrated. Here, based on translational research, we report results of a case study in a young adult cancer patient with fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma. Thus, a bench side discovery in the Department of Biological Chemistry at Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine was taken effectively to bedside treatment at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt/Main Hospital, Germany. The results obtained hold promise for 3BP as a future cancer therapeutic without apparent cyto-toxicity when formulated properly.


3-bromopyruvateCancerLiver cancerFibrolamellar carcinomaMitochondriaWarburg EffectHexokinase 2Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
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© The Author(s) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Y. H. Ko
    • 2
  • H. A. Verhoeven
    • 3
  • M. J. Lee
    • 4
  • D. J. Corbin
    • 5
  • T. J. Vogl
    • 6
  • P. L. Pedersen
    • 1
    • 7
    • 8
  1. 1.Department of Biological ChemistryJohns Hopkins University, School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Cancer Cure Med LLCOwings MillsUSA
  3. 3.Bioscience, Plant Research InternationalWageningen University and Research CentreWageningenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of Internal MedicineSeoul National University HospitalSeoulSouth Korea
  5. 5.Oncology FoundationNew YorkUSA
  6. 6.Institut für Diagnostische und Interventionelle RadiologieJohann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt / MainFrankfurt am MainGermany
  7. 7.Department of Oncology and Sidney Kimmel Cancer CenterJohns Hopkins University, School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  8. 8.Center for Metabolism and Obesity ResearchJohns Hopkins University, School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA