When an embryo implants in the uterus, the low-oxygen environment provokes some of its cells to shift to a sugar-busting metabolism. In cancer cells, the same shift releases fuel and materials for rapid tumor growth and division. In the embryo, the shift prepares for dramatic growth and formation of layers that later become organs. The researchers also saw a mitochondrial downshift linked to aging and disease controlling normal embryonic development. It may protect cells that later become eggs or sperm from oxidant damage.
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