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Medicine Science

New Research Suggests Cancer May Be an Intrinsic Property of Cells 185

Posted by Soulskill
from the kill-all-the-cells!-oh-wait dept.
cranky_chemist sends this report from NPR: "Cancer simply may be here to stay. Researchers at Kiel University, the Catholic University of Croatia and other institutions discovered that hydra — tiny, coral-like polyps that emerged hundreds of millions of years ago — form tumors similar to those found in humans. Which suggests that our cells' ability to develop cancer is "an intrinsic property" that has evolved at least since then — way, way, way before we rallied our forces to try to tackle it, said Thomas Bosch, an evolutionary biologist at Kiel University who led the study, published in Nature Communications in June (abstract) To get ahead of cancer, he said, "you have to interfere with fundamental pathways. It's a web of interactions," he said. "It's very difficult to do." That's why cancer "will probably never be completely eradicated."
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New Research Suggests Cancer May Be an Intrinsic Property of Cells

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  • "new" research (Score:5, Informative)

    by gcnaddict (841664) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @03:27PM (#47723611)

    New Research Suggests Cancer May Be an Intrinsic Property of Cells

    No shit, really? Because all the knowledge of cancer-blocking genes (like p53) which trigger apoptosis (programmed cell death) wasn't a giveaway that runaway growth might actually be an intrinsic property of life? The whole point of these genes is to keep cells in a multicelled organism from defeating the ability for a given multicelled organism to live.

    but I didn't read the study, so maybe this is saying something that isn't already obvious.

  • by volvox_voxel (2752469) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @03:53PM (#47723825)

    Just because cancer has been around for a very long time, should not make us defeatists.. I spent 5 years working on DNA sequencers and cancer cell sorting robots, and still consider biology to be hundreds of years behind other branches of science because we have not, until very recently had the tools to study the differences between cancer and normal cells at the DNA level. The Illumina machine can images two flow cells at once -- one for cancer, and one for normal cells. We can now study what happened to make the DNA replication fail and mutate, etc. Apparently it's now possible to do this for $1000.. The human genome project originally cost about 2 billion dollars.. The reduction in infrastructure and cost has been extraordinary.

    We can now better identify specific cancers to take out some of the guesswork. In the journal Nature a few years ago , doctors used a DNA sequencer to identify a misdiagnosed cancer (muscle cancer in his lung, producing large tumors) who had only weeks to live, and brought him back from the brink with the right treatment. We've spend the last 40 years developing specific cures, and it was only just guess work to decide what actual cancer a patient had.. This was circa 2007-8..

    One thing that really encouraged me a few years ago was a documentary from PBS called Cancer Warrior, that outlined the work of Judah Folkman and is work on angiogenic inhibitors.. Apparently tumors can trigger a persons body to grow veins to connect it to a blood supply , and that you can pick up unique chemical signatures of individual tumors in a patients urine..Strangely enough, large tumors send out chemicals that inhibit the growth of other tumors, and is why we often see many more tumors after removing one large tumor. We now have drugs that form angiogenic inhibitors ... Perhaps in the future we will understand how to create custom tumor growth inhibitor agents that have been tailored for a specific patient by analyzing the signatures in their urine.... An interesting application of synthesis and analytical chemistry.. I wonder what is the current state of research..

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @03:58PM (#47723883) Journal
    Multicellular organisms do have a variety of lethal failsafes that are supposed to stand in the way of cancer. Unfortunately some fraction of potentially cancerous cells are sufficiently defective that apoptosis is interrupted and they can proliferate.
  • by Beck_Neard (3612467) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @04:28PM (#47724093)

    Right, but that's miles away from saying "there is never going to be an effective treatment." If anything, having a set of well-defined and known pathways should make it EASIER to fight cancer than if cancer were just the result of random mutations that could arise anywhere on the genome at any time.

      The article never says that cancer is a 'side effect' of being alive. Instead it says that there are certain deep evolutionary pathways that, when triggered at the inappropriate time, cause cancer. Thus we might never be able to 'cure' ourselves of it (at least the same way we can cure ourselves of infectious disease). But that doesn't mean cancer would be impossible to treat or. It means the opposite: if all cancer cells go through similar mechanisms, fighting cancer would simply be a matter of weeding out those cells that show the characteristic, shared, telltale cancer signs and killing them early on (Of course we don't have the technology yet to do this but research like this offers a pathway towards building such tech).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21, 2014 @04:41PM (#47724173)

    Excellent documentary about Judah Folkman and angiogenesis here [pbs.org]

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