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Why don't we get cancer all the time?
Date:12/19/2007

Santa Fe Institute funded the research.

Pepper became curious about the origins of cooperation between cells while he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico.

"Organisms are just a bunch of cells," he said.

"If you understand the conditions under which they cooperate, you can understand the conditions under which cooperation breaks down. Cancer is a breakdown of cooperation."

Pepper and his colleagues used a kind of computer model called an agent-based model to compare different modes of cellular reproduction.

The results indicate that if cells reproduce by simply making carbon-copies of themselves, the cells' descendants are more likely to accumulate mutations.

In contrast, if cellular reproduction was much more complicated, the cells' descendants had fewer mutations.

Suppressing mutations that might fuel uncontrolled growth of cells would be particularly important for larger organisms that had long lives, the team wrote in their research report.


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Contact: Mari N. Jensen
mnjensen@email.arizona.edu
520-626-9635
University of Arizona  
Source:Eurekalert

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