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Cancerous tumors might be our oldest evolutionary ancestors

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posted on Mar, 15 2011 @ 09:23 PM

Cancer is one of the most difficult foes medical science has ever faced, but a controversial new idea might just show a way to victory. A group of scientists have evidence that cancer might be an evolutionary throwback to our most distant animal ancestor.

Astrobiologists Charles Lineweaver of the Australian National University and Paul Davies of Arizona State have proposed that cancerous cells are a so-called "living fossil", the last remnant of a crucial evolutionary juncture some 600 million years ago. It's been proposed before that cancer dates back to the beginning of multi-cellular animals, an evolutionary innovation that required cells to stop replicating whenever they wanted and start coordinating with the rest of the organism.

Cancer is what happens when these very ancient controls on cell replication break down, causing runaway cellular replication. But here's where Lineweaver and Davies take the idea a step further - they suggest cancer actually is our earliest animal ancestor. They suggest these organisms were the first to figure out some measure of control over cell replication, but they lacked more precise control over cell growth.

This hypothesis, they argue, fits known tumor behavior better than the view that all cancer cells act independently. They point to angiogenesis, in which cancer cells built blood vessel networks to bring nutrients into the tumor, which suggests cooperation amongst the cells. Indeed, the very act of metastasizing, in which cancerous cells move to other tissue areas, is hard to explain if all the cells are acting independently.

Click here to read the article.

Sometimes in order to defeat your enemy, you have to become your enemy--and looking at cancer this way, that is exactly what we are doing.

Obviously cancer can form in different ways and be caused under different conditions like radiation, or genetic factors, so there will never be a "cure." However this could mean there will be a standardized process that could eventually be used to elminate it. Once we understand the code, we can begin to hack it.

posted on Mar, 15 2011 @ 09:39 PM
reply to post by v1rtu0s0

Very interesting. I study medicine and cancer is a huge interest. I always thought it was odd that cancers reproduced like bacteria in that as long as they have nutrients and space they will grow anywhere for indefinite time. Maybe eukaryotes began as tumors.

Well, Lineweaver and Davies suggest that, if cancer really is our evolutionary ancestor, then its genetic toolkit has been locked in place for 600 million years, and its repertoire of survival methods is infinitely more limited than that of, say, bacteria, which has the capacity to evolve resistance to practically any therapy.

I don't really agree with that. Cancer cells become resistant to therapy too, but they don't reproduce as rapidly as bacteria and therefore don't evolve and develop resistance as fast either. Maybe it's a combination of both mechanisms.

posted on Mar, 15 2011 @ 09:48 PM
I've always thought cancer has been around for ages.

I find it interesting that persons want to speak as if cancer has only existed in the last couple of hundred years or so, and it must be humans faults. Some things just are.

Though we definetly don't make the problem better.

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