The clonal evolution of tumor cell populations

Science  01 Oct 1976:
Vol. 194, Issue 4260, pp. 23-28
DOI: 10.1126/science.959840


It is proposed that most neoplasms arise from a single cell of origin, and tumor progression results from acquired genetic variability within the original clone allowing sequential selection of more aggressive sublines. Tumor cell populations are apparently more genetically unstable than normal cells, perhaps from activation of specific gene loci in the neoplasm, continued presence of carcinogen, or even nutritional deficiencies within the tumor. The acquired genetic insta0ility and associated selection process, most readily recognized cytogenetically, results in advanced human malignancies being highly individual karyotypically and biologically. Hence, each patient's cancer may require individual specific therapy, and even this may be thwarted by emergence of a genetically variant subline resistant to the treatment. More research should be directed toward understanding and controlling the evolutionary process in tumors before it reaches the late stage usually seen in clinical cancer.

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