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Nat Rev Cancer. 2014 May;14(5):371-80. doi: 10.1038/nrc3712. Epub 2014 Apr 17.

Turning ecology and evolution against cancer.

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Bioinformatics Program, Boston University, 44 Cummington Mall, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Computational Biology Program, New York, New York, USA.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 400 Technology Square, NE46-609 Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.


The fight against cancer has drawn researchers from a wide variety of disciplines, ranging from molecular biology to physics, but the perspective of an ecological theorist has been mostly overlooked. By thinking about the cells that make up a tumour as an endangered species, cancer vulnerabilities become more apparent. Studies in conservation biology and microbial experiments indicate that extinction is a complex phenomenon, which is often driven by the interaction of ecological and evolutionary processes. Recent advances in cancer research have shown that tumours, like species striving for survival, harbour intricate population dynamics, which suggests the possibility to exploit the ecology of tumours for treatment.

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