What do cancer cells need to survive?

Original broadcast date: June 28, 2009

What do cancer cells need to survive? We know that gene mutations contribute to the development of cancer and research continues to identify the aberrant genetic sequences as cataloged in the Cancer Genome Atlas.

However, are mutations and the proteins that they code for the principle components that ensure the survival of the cancerous tumour?

According to a study published in the May 29, 2009 edition of the journal Cell, Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital conducted in vitro experiments indicating that cancer cells also rely on normal proteins. In other words, cancer cells depend on normal non-mutated genes to survive. This may have important implications when trying to develop treatments that interfere with a cancer cell’s metabolism.

  • Dr. Stephen Elledge, Professor of Genetics and of Medicine at Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Harvard Medical School, Division of Genetics, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and senior study author

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