cancer and evolution

What does cancer have to do with evolution?

Quite a lot: evolution is one of the defining features of cancer. In multicellular organisms cells cooperate in order to achieve a common goal: to preserve the organism. In a tissue containing a tumour the situation changes: mutations bring about a diversity of genotypes in which some cells will have a higher potential to reproduce and survive than others. In effect an ecosystem is created in which different individuals compete for a limited amount of resources, often to the point of destroying the ecosystem, that is, the organism.

This evolutionary nature of cancer has consequences that affect potential treatments. Since any given tumour will contain a number of different tumour cells, a therapy that is successful at eradicating one type of tumour cell might only make it easier for a different type to spread through. For a treatment to be successful its creators should consider how the ecosystem will be altered and what kind of evolutionary dynamics will be favoured.

Understanding the driving forces of cancer evolution is likely to be a necessary step to understand (and hopefully deal with) cancer. For that reason it would be interesting to see how models of what is beginning to be called computational evolution (nice article in Nature review Genetics, vol 7, september 2006, pp729-735) can be used to study evolution in the context of cancer.

One thought on “cancer and evolution

  1. WARNING: Morning ramblings occur on occasions…like this.
    It’s funny how we look at things isn’t it? On one hand we can identify and define what a virus is, but are unable to SEE, for instance, that is how WE behave as well.
    We can visualize and understand a NEED for a cure for THESE diseases, but not OURS.
    Why do you think that is? Would it be…denial?
    If we are looking for something in “Denial”, what do you think the chance are of finding it?
    Is that why we are pulling last years miracle cure OFF the shelves as this years #1 killer?
    Or our anti-depressents are really suicide inducers?
    Or is that just about profit margins?
    When you look AT something, does it look the same as when you look FROM something?
    “EVIL” is just
    ‘Live Backwards’…whereas;
    “LOVE” is the beginning of
    ‘Evolution’.
    I should probably ramble on back to my space…my apologies if I wasted your time. Please feel free to visit and explore ‘Ancient’s History’, but be forewarned; “To find the right answers you must first seek the right questions.” & “I don’t think I know…I just know I’m thinking.”

    your humble servant,
    Ancient Clown

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s