March 30, 2011

Could cancer be our oldest ancestor?

Posted: Mar 30, 2011 | 8 min 36 sec

ASU researcher Paul Davies shares his theory about cancer being our evolutionary ancestor.

Before the Cambrian flowering of multicellular life, there was a period of about a billion years where cells began to get together and form rudimentary colonies, says Davies, director of the BEYOND Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at ASU and principal investigator of a major research program funded by the National Cancer Institute, who is one of two scientists proposing a theory that suggests cancer cells are living fossils.

"These rudimentary colonies, I think, were like the earliest tumors. So when people get cancer now, these tumors represent a throwback to that time about a billion years ago – that first experimentation with multicellularity," Davies says.  
 

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