Navigation Links
Launching a 'social networking war' against cancer

Experts agree that, more than ever before, modern wars will be fought in the cyber zone, targeting an enemy's communications technology to cause untold damage. Now a Tel Aviv University researcher is suggesting that the same tactics should be employed in the battle against one of the body's deadliest enemies cancer.

In an article published in Trends in Microbiology, Prof. Eshel Ben-Jacob of TAU's School of Physics and Astronomy and Prof. Herbert Levine of Rice University, long-time bacteria researchers, and Prof. Donald Coffey of Johns Hopkins University, a renowned cancer researcher, examine the shared traits of cancer cells and bacteria. Like bacteria, cancer cells rely on communication and "social networking" to become powerful entities within the body. Inspired by the social and survival tactics of bacteria, the team presents a new picture of cancer as a meta-community of smart communicating cells possessing special traits for cooperative behavior.

Knowing the enemy

For many years, scientists ignored the complex social interactions of bacteria, now the number three killer in hospitals in the Western world. The researchers believe that medical professionals are similarly "underestimating the enemy" when it comes to cancer cells that exhibit many similar behaviors.

The parallels that can be drawn between the two types of cells are astounding. While healthy cells are highly disciplined, responding to chemical and physical cues telling them how to behave, bacteria and cancer cells override this control by using different chemical and genetic pathways. They proliferate quickly to make rapid genetic changes, avoiding the body's immune system and developing drug resistance.

Using intricate communication, cancer cells can distribute tasks, share resources, differentiate, and make decisions. Before sending cells to colonize organs and tissues throughout the body (metastasis), "spying cells" explore the body and return the cancer's origin. Only then do metastatic cells leave the primary tumor and navigate to new posts.

Also like bacteria, cancer cells change their own environment. They induce genetic changes and enslave surrounding normal cells, forcing them to do the disease's bidding providing physical support, protecting them from the immune system, and more. Cancer cells can also become dormant when they sense danger, such as chemotherapy chemicals, then reactivate at will.

A new therapeutic direction

Prof. Ben-Jacob suggests that studying the social behavior of cancer cells can inspire new research directions and pave the way for the development of novel therapeutic approaches for example, a new class of drugs to target cell-to-cell communication or send misleading messages.

With the ability to become immune to chemotherapy and lay dormant until it determines the time is right to reawaken, cancer often relapses undetected until it's too late to treat, says Prof. Levine. Breaking the communication code for awakening dormant cells could help researchers learn how to reactivate them on purpose and be ready to kill them as soon as they "awaken."

The team also suggests further research into cancer "cannibalism," when cancer cells may consume their peers when they run out of resources. The idea is to send signals which trigger cancer cells to kill each other, which can be done with bacteria.

Other researchers have demonstrated that injected bacteria can "outsmart cancer." Bacteria can be used to induce gap junctions between the cancer cells and immune cells, "teaching" the immune system to recognize and kill the tumor cells. We might be entering a new era of biological cyber-warfare, in which scientists can enlist bacterial intelligence to defeat cancer, Prof. Ben-Jacob concludes.


Contact: George Hunka
American Friends of Tel Aviv University

Related medicine news :

1. Social ties have mixed impact on encouraging healthy behaviors in low-income areas
2. Social Factors May Affect Lifespan More Than Race, Location
3. University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work announces partnership with MD Anderson
4. Alcohol abuse may be cause, rather than effect of social isolation, poor grades among teens
5. Avatars may help children with social anxiety overcome fears
6. Sleep Apnea in Teens Linked to Social, Behavioral Woes
7. Social-class discrimination contributes to poorer health
8. Teen Drinkers May Feel Like Social Outcasts: Study
9. New Anthropology and Archaeology Resources Published at Sciences Social Network
10. Social Smoking Announces New Product Line of E-Cig Liquids
11. Social Media Strategies and Solutions — Straight from the Experts
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Many families have long-term insurance that covers ... companies have a waiver for care if the client has a cognitive impairment diagnosis. ... pays for care, is often waived, so the benefits from their insurance start immediately,” ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... , ... Talented host, actor Rob Lowe, is introducing a ... episode of "Success Files," which is an award-winning educational program broadcasted on PBS ... in-depth with passion and integrity. , Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve in ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... treating sleep apnea using cutting-edge Oventus O2Vent technology. As many as ... disorder characterized by frequent cessation in breathing. Oral appliances can offer significant relief ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... , ... Asante, a nationally recognized health system in southern ... home health joint venture through an agreement, effective October 1, 2017, to create ... health company with Asante, delivering clinically integrated care, for the past eight years. ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... On Saturday, October 21, the Health & ... by Moonlight to raise money for the American Heart Association Heart Walk. Teams of ... will work together to keep their treadmills moving for 5 hours. Treadmills will start ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:9/28/2017)... 28, 2017 Hill-Rom Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: HRC), ... call and webcast on Friday, November 3, 2017, beginning ... ending at approximately 8:30 a.m. (CDT) / 9:30 a.m. ... 2017 financial performance and guidance for 2018, Hill-Rom executives ... enhance operational performance, and long-range financial outlook through 2020. ...
(Date:9/25/2017)... R.I. , Sept. 25, 2017  EpiVax, ... assessment, vaccine design, and immune-engineering today announced the ... on the development of personalized therapeutic cancer vaccines. ... has provided exclusive access to enabling technologies to ... Eng., MBA will lead EpiVax Oncology as Chief ...
(Date:9/19/2017)... ZirMed Inc ., a recognized leader in cloud-based revenue cycle ... ranked #1 by its users for the seventh consecutive year ... ZirMed was recognized as the top-ranked end-to-end revenue cycle management ... 200 beds and holds one of the longest #1 ranking ... ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: