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Monday, July 1, 2013

evolutionary roots of cancer

"The miracle of life." To a physicist, life does seem almost like magic. Faced with the sheer complexity of the living cell, many physicists feel bewildered. Yet some biological processes are remarkably deterministic. The development of the embryo is one. Cancer is another. Although there are inevitable patient-by-patient variations in the progression of cancer, generally speaking, once it is initiated the disease follows a depressingly predictable trajectory.

When a physical process follows a pattern, physicists can bring valuable insights from their discipline. Recognizing this, in 2009 the US National Cancer Institute created 12 centres for physical science and oncology in an effort to identify radically new approaches to cancer research and treatment.