Experts propose ‘cyber war’ on cancer: Universities aim to break cancer’s codes for social networking

Cancer as a social organism, more complex than I thought, and with more defence mechanisms against treatment. Who would have thought about cancer cells being part of a ‘social network’. Fascinating if not somewhat depressing. Quote:

“It’s time to declare a cyber war on cancer,” said (Eshel) Ben-Jacob, who, along with (Donald) Coffey, is speaking today at a workshop titled “Failures in Clinical Treatment of Cancer” at Princeton University.

Ben-Jacob said cancer cells have been shown to cooperate to elude chemotherapy drugs, much like bacteria that communicate and act as a team to resist attacks from antibiotics. He said some cancers appear to sense when chemotherapy drugs are present and sound an alarm that causes cells throughout a tumor to switch into a dormant state. Similar signals are later used to sound the “all clear” and reawaken cells inside the tumor.

“If we can break the communication code, we may be able to prevent the cells from going dormant or to reawaken them for a well-timed chemotherapeutic attack,” Ben-Jacob said. “This is just one example. Our extensive studies of the social lives of bacteria suggest a number of others, including sending signals that trigger the cancer cells to turn upon themselves and kill one another.”

Experts propose ‘cyber war’ on cancer: Universities aim to break cancer’s codes for social networking.

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