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Cancer resembles life 1 billion years ago

Anonymous Coward writes | more than 3 years ago

Biotech 4

An anonymous reader writes "What is cancer? It's not an invader, it's spawned from our own bodies. And it bears striking resemblance to early multicellular life from 1 billion years ago. This has led astrobiologists and cosmologists Paul Davies and Charlie Lineweaver to suggest that cancer is driven by primitive genes that govern cellular cooperation, and which kick in when our more recently evolved genes that keep them in check break down. So, far from being rogue cells that mutate out of control, cancers are actually cells that revert to a more ancient level of programming, like booting in Safe Mode. The good news is this means cancers have only finite variation. Once we nut out the ancient genes, we'll know how it works, and it's unlike to evolve any new defence mechanisms, meaning curing cancer might be not quite as mammoth a task as commonly thought."
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4 comments

Cancer, life from a billion years ago (1)

Almost-Retired (637760) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159038)

This may be a theory worth pursuing. However, to assume that it is from a simpler time and that once decoded, it should be a piece of cake to solve and fix once and for all, is I believe, overly optimistic hype, after all, it has also had that same billion years to develop its own survival tricks.

--
Cheers, Gene

not "it"; maybe "we"? (1)

wrencherd (865833) | more than 3 years ago | (#35161374)

it has also had that same billion years to develop its own survival tricks.

I think that the point is that cancer is not an "it".

Cancer, if I understand TFA correctly, is a set of cell "behaviors" that are usually suppressed by some part of the host organism's genetics. If that part fails or mutates, then the cells revert to those bad behaviors.

So cancer is always in there, it just requires a failure or mutation to set it off.

I think you're right though, tinkering with genes is probably not as simple as finding the "ancient ones" and turning them off.

It seems logical that, like the safe mode/bios on a computer, "cancer" thus defined may actually be necessary to the development/survival/existence of the host organism in some way.

Where is Michael Crichton when we need him?

Re:not "it"; maybe "we"? (1)

Almost-Retired (637760) | more than 3 years ago | (#35161668)

Good question since he has passed. What an amazing, imaginative mind he had.

--
Cheers, Gene

Cancer (1)

Asaf.Zamir (1053470) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160278)

Cancer, it's like booting into Safe Mode
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