Navigation Links
Cancer is a result of a default cellular 'safe mode,' physicist proposes
Date:6/30/2013

With death rates from cancer have remained largely unchanged over the past 60 years, a physicist is trying to shed more light on the disease with a very different theory of its origin that traces cancer back to the dawn of multicellularity more than a billion years ago.

In this month's special issue of Physics World devoted to the "physics of cancer", Paul Davies, principal investigator at Arizona State University's Center for Convergence of Physical Sciences and Cancer Biology, explains his radical new theory.

Davies was brought in to lead the centre in 2009 having almost no experience in cancer research whatsoever. With a background in theoretical physics and cosmology, he was employed to bring fresh, unbiased eyes to the underlying principles of the disease.

He has since raised questions that are rarely asked by oncologists: thinking about why cancer exists at all and what place it holds in the grand story of life on Earth.

His new theory, drawn together with Charles Lineweaver of the Australian National University, suggests that cancer is a throwback to an ancient genetic "sub-routine" where the mechanisms that usually instruct cells when to multiply and die malfunctions, thus forcing the cells to revert back to a default option that was programmed into their ancestors long ago.

"To use a computer analogy, cancer is like Windows defaulting to 'safe mode' after suffering an insult of some sort," Davies writes.

The result of this malfunction is the start of a cascade of events that we identify as cancer a runaway proliferation of cells that form a tumour, which eventually becomes mobile itself, spreading to other parts of the body and invading and colonizing.

Orthodox explanations suppose that cancer results from an accumulation of random genetic mutations, with the cancer starting from scratch each time it manifests; however, Davies and Lineweaver believe it is caused by a set of genes that have been passed on from our very early ancestors and are "switched on" in the very early stages of an organism's life as cells differentiate into specialist forms.

The pair suggests that the genes that are involved in the early development of the embryo and that are silenced, or switched off, thereafter become inappropriately reactivated in the adult as a result of some sort of trigger or damage, such as chemicals, radiation or inflammation.

"Very roughly, the earlier the embryonic stage, the more basic and ancient will be the genes guiding development, and the more carefully conserved and widely distributed they will be among species," Davies writes.

Several research teams around the world are currently providing experimental evidence that shows the similarities between the expression of genes in a tumour and an embryo, adding weight to Davies and Lineweaver's theory.

Davies makes it clear that radical new thinking is needed; however, just like ageing, he states that cancer cannot generally be cured but can be mitigated, which we can only do when we better understand the disease, and its place in the "great sweep of evolutionary history".


'/>"/>

Contact: Joseph Winters
joseph.winters@iop.org
020-747-04815
Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Continued research needed on treatment for women with lung cancer who are never smokers
2. TGen and Ventana Medical Systems Inc. join forces to fight cancer
3. National Institutes of Health to fund research probing proteins linked to cancer, diabetes
4. Herding cancer cells to their death
5. No danger of cancer through gene therapy virus
6. An article in Cell reveals a new resistance mechanism to chemotherapy in breast and ovarian cancer
7. Osteoporosis drug stops growth of breast cancer cells, even in resistant tumors
8. Using math to kill cancer cells
9. Gene variants may predict who will benefit from breast cancer prevention drugs
10. Nanotechnology helps track and improve drug action in pancreatic cancer
11. Biomarker identification may lead to new noninvasive test for colorectal cancer detection
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/28/2016)... India , April 28, 2016 ... Infosys (NYSE: INFY ), and Samsung SDS, a ... that will provide end customers with a more secure, ... services.      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130122/589162 ) , ... services, but it also plays a fundamental part in enabling ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... LONDON , April 26, 2016 ... EdgeVerve Systems, a product subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: ... a partnership to integrate the Onegini mobile security ... (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20151104/283829LOGO ) The ... enhanced security to access and transact across channels. ...
(Date:4/19/2016)... April 20, 2016 The new ... a compact web-based "all-in-one" system solution for all door ... reader or the door interface with integration authorization management ... control systems. The minimal dimensions of the access control ... the building installations offer considerable freedom of design with ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... Amgen, will join the faculty of the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler ... of strategy and entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler, with a focus on the school’s ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... on a range of subjects including policies, debt and investment ... Speaking at a lecture to the Canadian Economics ... the country,s inflation target, which is set by both the ... "In certain areas there needs to be frequent ... not sit down and address strategy together?" He ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Researchers at the ... commonly-identified miRNAs in people with peritoneal or pleural mesothelioma. Their findings are the subject ... it now. , Diagnostic biomarkers are signposts in the blood, lung fluid or ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Mass. , June 23, 2016   ... development of novel compounds designed to target cancer ... napabucasin, has been granted Orphan Drug Designation from ... the treatment of gastric cancer, including gastroesophageal junction ... stemness inhibitor designed to inhibit cancer stemness pathways ...
Breaking Biology Technology: