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Cytotechnology. 2004 Jun;45(1-2):47-59. doi: 10.1007/s10616-004-5125-1.

Immortalized cells as experimental models to study cancer.

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Department of Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, 02115, USA.


The development of cancer is a multi-step process in which normal cells sustain a series of genetic alterations that together program the malignant phenotype. Much of our knowledge of cancer biology results from the detailed study of specimens and cell lines derived from patient tumors. While these approaches continue to yield critical information regarding the identity, number, and types of alterations found in human tumors, further progress in understanding the molecular basis of malignant transformation depends upon the generation and use of increasingly sophisticated experimental models of cancer. Over the past several years, the recognition that telomeres and telomerase play essential roles in regulating cell lifespan now permits the development of new models of human cancer. Here we review recent progress in the use of immortalized human cells as a foundation for understanding the molecular basis of cancer.

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