Evolution and Cancer

For next week, in addition to discussing your answer to this week’s writing question, I am going to present the topic of cancer evolution.

I will show you how the application of evolutionary theory to cancer evolution, dispersal, and relapse has potential for a future Nobel prize. It will also illustrate why every medical student needs to understand evolution.

Cancer evolution has many parallels with the evolution of antimicrobial resistance. Many of the concepts we learned for that earlier topic will apply here too, especially as they relate to evolution of chemotherapy resistant cancer clones.

I want you to carefully read the two readings by Aktipis et al. below. Athena Aktipis and her husband Carlo Maley are two extremely talented evolutionary medicine researchers who have launched the Center for Evolution and Cancer at UCSF. You can read more about them here.

Aktipis, Maley, and Pepper. Dispersal Evolution in Neoplasms: The Role of Disregulated Metabolism in the Evolution of Cell Motility. Cancer Prevention Research, Feb 2012.

Aktipis Kwan et al Overlooking Evolution: A Systematic Analysis of Cancer Relapse and Therapeutic Resistance Research. PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e26100. Epub 2011 Nov 17.

(You will find your writing assignment in a post below, with readings that are different from those posted here.)

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