Tumors are notoriously difficult to control, spreading seemingly randomly in unexpected ways. Unlike healthy cells that mutate fairly frequently with each division, tumor cells tend to be nearly identical within large tumors and mutate only at certain rare instances.
A team of researchers from University of Edinburgh, Harvard University, and Johns Hopkins University created a high resolution simulation of how a tumor grows from a single cell into a complicated mass of variously mutated groups of cells. The researchers discovered that a single cell that mutates away from the rest of the tumor can quickly take over as the primary tumor cell type and that this mechanism helps tumors become resistant to chemotherapy. The findings can help researchers focus their attention on those cells that mutate and take over, attacking them early on and preventing further differentiation of the tumor.
Here’s a quick video from Nature showing various simulations that were performed:
Source: University of Edinburgh…