Is Cancer Really a Killer Parasite?

By Susan Aiello • Published: December 1st, 2011
Category: Animal Airwaves

A long-held tenet of toxicology is that a mutation in a single gene can change a normal cell into a cancerous one. This theory is a cornerstone of assessing cancer risk.

But some biologists are now challenging the old view by suggesting that cancer requires damage at the chromosomal level, involving massive numbers of genes. This results in a cell with totally new traits from the parent organism, making it similar to an evolving species of parasite that uses the host but doesn’t take orders from it.

This theory was actually first proposed in 1956 by evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley. According to this vision, evolving cancer cells are actually struggling on the edge of evolutionary survival.

So it may be possible to beat this parasite by forcing it to change faster than it’s able. Such a concept could evolve into promising new treatments for people and pets.