Evolution and Cancer

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In order for a cell to become cancerous, it must overcome a great number of biological safeguards. One of the hallmarks of cancer cells is unrestricted cell growth. Cell growth is highly regulated through different growth control checkpoints. These checkpoints serve as gatekeepers that only allow healthy cells to grow. Early in cancer development cancer cells become unresponsive to these checkpoints facilitating unrestrictive cell growth. In addition to avoidance of cell control checkpoints, cancer cell must also acquire the ability to sustain their own growth, avoid cell death signals, overcome environmental challenges such as nutrient deprivation, lack of oxygen and evade the immune response. Driving this multi-step processes is evolution through natural selection.

Evolution through natural selection requires at least two components: first is the generation of “genetic diversity” and the second is the selection of those genetic variants that may confer an evolutionary advantage.

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In cancer cells, genetic diversity arises through the accumulation of mutations. Mutations are changes in the genetic code that may or may not alter the function of a protein. Most mutations are either deleterious or neutral. However, in some rare cases a mutation may give cells an advantage over other cells, allowing the mutation to overtake the population. This process is generally referred to as selection. Selection of a particular mutation is contingent upon the environmental context in which the mutation is present. Some mutations can be advantageous in a particular environment, whereas in other environments they can be disadvantageous.

It is thought that early in cancer development cells acquire what is called a “mutator phenotype”. This means that cancer cells develop the capacity to increase the number of mutations they acquired per generation. This directly increases the pool of new traits that can be selected enabling cancer formation, progression and metastasis. Intrinsically cancer is an evolutionary problem. Cancer treatments have to constantly be ahead of cancer’s ability to develop resistance to chemotherapeutic through natural evolutionary processes. This accentuates the necessity for better understanding of these processes and the concomitant development of therapies that avoid such evolutionary traps.

For Information about cancer:

http://www.cancer.org

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2 thoughts on “Evolution and Cancer”

  1. Thank you for sharing about your research with Cancer Caleb, we are indeed awesomely Created but yes sadly sin messed up God’s perfect design and so sickness is indeed a reality that touches us in many forms but how wonderful that God provides tools for healing or intercedes Himself to heal us Miraculously.

    It’s interestingly that Animals have many important inter-species differences which have to be taken into account when considering the mechanisms of Cancer development, including tumor type, malignancy and treatment options but than God already told us our D.N.A was different when there was no Pathology research (see below) and of course we have a Human Belly Button that no Animal has and what’s very important is our Blood does not mix and never could have.

    1 Corinthians 15:38-40 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed His own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.

    Christian Love Always -Anne.

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