Thursday, November 7, 2013

Molecular chatterboxes: genes talking to genes

When genes became damaged or mutated, their hosting cells may turn malignant. Such cancerous cells can grow into tumors over time. Understanding of cancer, a group of diseases medically known as malignant neoplasm, relies on  the basic concept of uncontrolled, misregulated growth of cells into nearby parts of a patient's body. In addition to genetic changes, many other factors contribute to the biochemistry of malignancy, including body-occupying bacteria and the complex biomolecular interactions switching certain genes on and off. George Johnson summarize the new insight into the physics and informatics of cancer as follows: 

In the end, all biology comes down to genes talking to genes—within the cell or from cell to cellin a constant molecular chatter. I had not considered, however, that the genes in human tissues can also exchange information with the genes residing in the microbes that occupy our bodies. Cancer is a disease of information, of mixed-up cellular signaling. Now there is another realm to explore.
George Johnson, 2013.

The new realm goes beyond the cell-centric mechanism of repeated mutation acquirement stimulating abnormal growth. A new paradigm that hopefully provides the needed insight to come forward with new treatments and advances in curing cancer.  

Keywords: cell biology, oncology, medicine, epigenetics, cancer treatment.

George Johnson: The long trail of cancer's. Scientific American, November 2013, 309 (5), 2012; pp. 60-63 [].

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