Cancer cells hijack inflammatory mechanisms to promote their own growth and survival. During a normal inflammatory response by the innate and adaptive immune system, immune cells carry out their designated task of engulfing and/or destroying foreign invaders.
Cancer cells invade local tissue and spread to distant sites via two distinct, but similar processes known as invasion and metastasis.
Some cancer cells adapt mechanisms to evade detection and destruction by the host's immune system. One way cells do this is by hijacking normal mechanisms of immune checkpoint control and modulation of the innate immune response via STING.
The process of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), whereby differentiated epithelial cells transform into cells with more mesenchymal characteristics, was first described by pioneering Harvard biologist Elizabeth “Betty” Hay in the 1980s.
Cancer cells resist inhibitory signals that might otherwise stop their growth. The major pathways involved are Autophagy and Death Receptor Signaling (Apoptosis), both of which can ultimately lead to cell death, and reduction in tumor growth.
Cancer cells can revert to a pre-differentiated, stem-cell-like phenotype, allowing uninhibited cellular division and other metabolic adaptations that enable survival in adverse conditions.
Cancer cells stimulate their own growth, which means they become self-sufficient in growth signals, and no longer depend on external signals (like Epidermal Growth Factor EGF/ EGFR). Proliferation depends highly on these three important pathways: Akt, MAPK/Erk, and MTOR.
Cancer cells stimulate the growth of blood vessels to supply nutrients to tumors. Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing blood vessels. This plays an important role in tumor growth.
One thing we know about cancer cells: they can resist death. They evade apoptosis, the mechanism that programs cell death once cells become damaged. Normally, apoptosis helps keep an organism healthy through growth and development, maintaining body tissue by removing infected or damaged cells. But cancer cells do not follow this process, no matter how abnormally they grow.
Topics: Cancer Research