Multicellularity, Evolution, and Cancer

Every second, hundreds of thousands of our cells die. Don’t worry, we are made up of about 30 trillion cells, and the cells that die are readily replaced by others that divide. However, DNA replication is not perfect, and mutations may accumulate in continually dividing cell lineages. These mutations may result in new regimes of gene expression, some of which are better at surviving and reproducing than others. Certain lineages of cells may be naturally selected to survive at the expense of others. Over time, the populations of cells in our bodies evolve.

Most of my dissertation work revolves around this evolution. How do mutations change the survivability and replicative potential of our own cells? How do these changes eventually result in tumor formation and cancer? How about aging? And the myriad of questions that have been coming up along the way. I’ll expand this soon, and I’m sure there will be many blog posts touching on these questions.

Update: You can check out our published work on this topic here and here.

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