Professor Douglas Hanahan explains that a fundamental property of multi-cellular organisms is the capability to have cells commit suicide or undergo apoptosis, which is a form of programmed cell death.
In 2000, Douglas Hanahan (shown below) and Robert Weinberg published a paper in Cell, "The Hallmarks of Cancer," which identified some organizing principles of cancer cell development.
“A fundamental property of multi-cellular organisms is the capability to commit suicide or undergo apoptosis, which is a form of programmed cell death. And it is evident that this is another check and balance on aberrant tissues, so that early on in the development of many cancers one can see prominent induction of apoptosis, which we imagine to be a form of protection for the organism. The cells are proliferating aberrantly and they therefore commit suicide for the common good.”
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Professor Douglas Hanahan discusses how cancers kill you, in general, not just because they grow into a large lump, but because they invade into normal tissues and disrupt the functions of those tissues.
Professor Douglas Hanahan discusses how cancer cells require a source of nutrients and oxygen, which is supplied through new blood vessel growth – the process of angiogenesis, which is critical for almost all cancers.
Professor Douglas Hanahan, discusses that due to the nature of the replication machinery chromosomes get smaller every time they divide, and that we now appreciate that specialized cells in the body have a way to counteract this telomere shorting.