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Chapter

Cover Cancer Biology and Treatment

Cancer Fundamentals  

This chapter provides an overview of the fundamentals of cancer. Normal cells evolve to become cancer cells by acquiring successive mutations in primarily two classes of genes: the proto-oncogenes and the tumour suppressor genes. Mutations that specifically drive cancer development and disease progression are called driver mutations; the rest are termed passenger mutations and their role in carcinogenesis is less clear. Large-scale cancer genome studies have provided deep insight into the mutational profile of the cancer genome, and are presently informing not only basic research but also the clinical management of cancer patients. The chapter then looks at cancer stem cells, which have the capacity to self-renew and differentiate into cell types that recreate the cellular heterogeneity of the tumour from which they derive. Viruses are also associated with the development of some cancers as are certain bacteria.

Chapter

Cover Molecular Biology of Cancer

The cancer genome: mutations versus repair  

This chapter looks at the structures of genes and describes the mutations that occur during carcinogenesis. It argues that changes in the nucleotide sequence of DNA — called mutations — are crucial for acquiring the hallmarks of cancer and have been labeled an enabling characteristic. The chapter then investigates how, on the one hand, mutations in DNA occur as a consequence of exposure to carcinogens and, on the other hand, examine the DNA repair systems that are in place to maintain the integrity of the genome and suppress tumorigenesis. The chapter then shifts to define the genetic information, coded within DNA, and the role of the accumulation of mutations. Ultimately, the chapter concludes with a discussion of conventional chemotherapies and a new class of drugs that target DNA repair pathways. It also studies the recent findings from advances in sequencing technology and imaging.

Book

Cover Molecular Biology of Cancer
Molecular Biology of Cancer starts with an introduction. It then looks at the cancer genome. Other chapters consider the regulation of gene expression, growth factor signaling, and oncogenes. The cell cycle is also considered, as are tumor suppressor genes. The text moves on to look at apoptosis, cancer stem cells and the regulation of self-renewal and differentiation pathways. There are also chapters on metastasis, angiogenesis, reprogrammed metabolism and diet, tumor immunology and immunotherapy, and inflammation and infection. Finally, the text considers strategies and tools for research and for drug development.

Chapter

Cover Molecular Biology of Cancer

Growth factor signaling and oncogenes  

This chapter focuses on one of the fundamental characteristics of cells: their ability to self-reproduce. It stresses that the process of cell division (also known as cell proliferation or cell growth) must be carefully regulated, and DNA replication must be precisely coordinated in order to maintain the integrity of the genome for each cell generation. The chapter then moves to explicate the process of transferring a signal across a cell called signal transduction. It demonstrates the four types of proteins involved in the transduction of a growth factor signal: growth factors, growth factor receptors, intracellular signal transducers, and nuclear transcription factors, which elicit the mitogenic effect through the regulation of gene expression. Towards the end, the chapter identifies a common thread in many growth factor signal transduction pathways: many growth factor receptors are tyrosine kinases. It then reviews some examples of signal transducers.

Chapter

Cover Molecular Biology of Cancer

Strategies and tools for research and clinical development  

This chapter recalls the goal of cancer research: to reveal fundamental mechanisms of cancer biology in order to produce preventative and therapeutic agents. The chapter addresses both strategies and tools of research and drug development. It starts with a description of the scientific method used to uncover the fundamentals of the role of extrachromosomal DNA (ecDNA) in cancer. This chapter shows how simple observation can lead to the understanding of how the genomes of cancer cells can change and how this knowledge is revealing clinical implications and candidate targets for a new class of therapeutics. The chapter also describes several select experimental methods and tools that have wide applications. Finally, the chapter pays attention to the use of the CRISPR-Cas9 system — one of the newest additions to the tools for investigating cancer genes. It also considers candidate drugs and some aspects of clinical trial design.