The Well-Shield™ platform is a ground-breaking approach for the quantitative measurement of the metabolic activity (MA) of relevant cell populations, as an indicator of disease. The assay measures the rate of the MA in micro-liter cellular samples by assessing extracellular acidification using a pH-sensitive impermeable fluorescence probe on a blood sample.
Non-activated T cells (naive T cells), like most normal differentiated cells, rely primarily on mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation to efficiently generate ATP for the energy needed for cellular processes. In the absence of oxygen they must rely on much less efficient metabolic pathways of ATP production known as anaerobic glycolysis, which produces lactate. In contrast, most cancer cells are found to rely on aerobic glycolysis despite the presence of oxygen, a phenomenon originally found by Nobel Prize recipient Otto Warburg and termed “the Warburg effect”.
The "Warburg effect" was later found also in activated T cells. The shift between naive and activated lymphocytes may be related to the need of aggressive and effective physiological function of activated T cells in the tumor cell neighborhood, which is probably oxygen deficient. The end products of glycolysis like CO2 and lactate, contribute directly to the acidification examined by the MA test
The Well-Shield™ platform is designed to identify the clear-cut shift of immune system MA pathways from oxidative phosphorylation to aerobic glycolysis between healthy patients and those with various cancer types.