Technion Team Believes Malignant Cells to Be Clever Enough to Adapt

While cancer cells that inhibit a patient’s body may be brainless, recent studies have revealed that they are as cleverer as qualified chess players looking to win. According to experts in the State of Israel, these cells are familiar with the process of spreading or metastasizing towards a number of parts of the body. This is believed to be a skill that allows malignant tumors to be the primary cause of certain death in the Jewish state. But the question arises, what is it that permits these cells to move throughout the body and flourish, despite several treatments, such as surgery for the removal of initial tumor, radiotherapy, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy? 

A couple of researchers working at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, which is located in Haifa, recently published a detailed article on cancer cells. The study was posted to an open-access journal, iScience, which covers a wide range of interdisciplinary topics. Moreover, this research will be continuously published across the physical, earth sciences, and life. Aseel Shomar, a doctoral student on an Adams Fellowship in biochemical engineering, got together with Prof. Naama Brenner and Prof. Omri Barak, to come up with a novel explanation related to the spread of cancer cells that would help doctors understand its behavior better. In addition, it a deeper understanding of the subject can also potentially help find a better treatment. 

The researchers from Israel worked on the idea that such cells are able to spread, as well as flourish, because they possess the ability to learn and adapt to their changing environments. This is made possible by the cancer cells actively identifying solutions that will aid in their survival. The experts believe that the study of the disease with this approach, along with tools of learning theory, can help advance people’s current understanding of cancer. The experts further talked about how it is generally believed that random mutations of cancer cells possess the ability to metastasise, as well as resist drugs. The production of such mutations allows these cells to enjoy an advantage of surviving even in environments that have been designed to fight them. 

Consequently, the mutations take control and become dominant. Meanwhile, the members of Technion have proposed their newly devised hypothesis that matches the present evidence. According to this, cancer cells have the ability to learn and adapt with respect to their environment, allowing them to become drug resistant and conform to environments where metastasis is taking place. When talking about how a cell learns despite not having a brain, Bremer stated that when a cell senses stress, it seeks to reduce the pressure. Consequently, it starts a trial-and-error process inside the gene regulatory network, thereby bringing about a change in the way of expressing existing genes. 

The researchers then ran computer simulations for their newly devised hypothesis, showing that cancer cells can learn and adapt. This is a major breakthrough and can be useful in figuring out better and more effective treatments for combating the said disease. 

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