Edge of existance

Researchers of the Zoological Society of London have started a new campaign (called EDGE) to promote the protection of certain species that might not be so close to extinction as some other more famous ones (say, whales?) but whose impact on the survival of other species might be significant. The news can be found in BBC or for those of you that can read Spanish in El Pais.

Now, this is probably not something that many people might find relevant to cancer research but I think that there might be a connection. In ecological systems (and here I assume that a tumour is one of those) species depend on other species for their survival. This dependency does not need to come in terms of food webs (a species needs other to prey on) but also in the way that one species can change the environment for the benefit (or not) of the other ones. The idea then would be to identify ‘agents’ in a tumour whose role in principle might not look so relevant but that might provide support to other more important but less vulnerable targets. Given the current emphasis on the role of the microenvironment in cancer research I would be surprised if there was not already some work pointing in this direction.

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