The Gambling Rules of Cell Behavior

Science Rehashed

Jan 26 2022 • 40 mins

“Every gambler knows that the secret to survivin' is knowin' what to throw away and knowin' what to keep...”. Have you ever listened to “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers? He knew how to play the game right, and it turns out that so does our body! Dr. Phil Jones, a Professor of Cancer Development at the University of Cambridge UK, works on uncovering the dynamics of cell behavior. He found that human cells play a dice game, balancing the odds between production and shedding. This game protects the genomes of our cells, throwing out most of the damage we accumulate during our lives. However, mutations can change the game's rules and increase the odds in favor of dividing cells, potentially leading to cancer. Acquiring mutations is easier than we think: ultraviolet light in sunshine or tobacco-derived chemicals can cause extensive mutations in our body. Despite this, our tissue can surprisingly continue to look and function normally. Listen to this episode to learn how normal tissues restrain the expansion of mutant clones, so very few of them progress to form tumors. Phew!

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