Princeton University physical scientists will partner with researchers at four other institutions to explore the driving forces behind the evolution of cancer under a five-year, $15.2 million award from the National Cancer Institute.
The Princeton Physical Sciences-Oncology Center was launched Oct. 26 as one of 12 centers in the institute's new network of Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers. Collaborating with Princeton will be: the University of California-San Francisco; the Johns Hopkins Hospital; the University of California-Santa Cruz; and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif.
The center's goal is to understand the explosive evolution of cancer under stress at a deep theoretical and experimental level by leveraging the strengths of an interdisciplinary team of physicists, engineers, chemists, biochemists and oncologists. Using a physics-based approach, the team intends to better grasp the rules or laws that govern how cancer evolves, which may one day inform entirely new treatment approaches.
"The mortality rates for many cancers are flat to rising," said Robert Austin, the center's principal investigator and a Princeton professor of physics. "It's true that people are living longer than they used to live, but in the end, the cancer wins most of the time. Our current 'shock and awe' approach to treatment may not be the best thing to do -- we're leaving behind small populations of highly resistant cells."
This course may, in turn, contribute to the development of intractable cancer recurrences. Because it is nearly impossible to kill every single cancerous cell in the body, those that survive the stress of chemotherapy and radiation often have undergone mutations that render them resistant to traditional treatments, capable of rapid reproduction and therefore exceedingly dangerous.
"The evolution of cancer is the Achilles' heel of cancer treatment," said Thea Tlsty, the center's co-princip
|Contact: Kitta MacPherson|