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Nat Rev Cancer. 2011 May;11(5):375-82. doi: 10.1038/nrc3039.

An analogy between the evolution of drug resistance in bacterial communities and malignant tissues.

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Department of Physics, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA.


Cancer cells rapidly evolve drug resistance through somatic evolution and, in order to continue growth in the metastatic phase, violate the organism-wide consensus of regulated growth and beneficial communal interactions. We suggest that there is a fundamental mechanistic connection between the rapid evolution of resistance to chemotherapy in cellular communities within malignant tissues and the rapid evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacterial communities. We propose that this evolution is the result of a programmed and collective stress response performed by interacting cells, and that, given this fundamental connection, studying bacterial communities can provide deeper insights into the dynamics of adaptation and the evolution of cells within tumours.

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