Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cancer that colonizes our bodies

20.02.2007
To Robert C. von Borstel, cancer is a metaphorical example of the perfect invasion by a founder species. Like the first pregnant finch that landed on a deserted island in the Galapagos Archipelago, the first cancer cell in the human body has to undergo many mutations through many generations to establish itself as an invader of different organs in the body. But once it is there, like any newly stabilized species in different ecological niches, cancer is tough to get rid of.

The former University of Alberta biologist has been working with DNA – the molecule that carries our cells’ genetic information – ever since 1947, six years before its structure was described by Watson and Crick. His fundamental Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) work on how radiation can kill cells, how the DNA molecule itself can control mutation, and other research has earned him a fellowship in the American Association for the Advancement for Science (AAAS).

Now, von Borstel, at the AAAS conference in San Francisco, to be held between Feb. 15 and 19, will deliver a talk about how cancer cell mutation and selection are metaphorically similar to how a new species begins its evolution.

"Of course, the difference with cancer is that it destroys itself when it kills you off, whereas many new species stabilize," von Borstel says. "Obviously, no metaphor is the be-all of reality. But I’m hoping this symposium I am hosting will help people look at cancer in a new light."

... more about:
»Borstel »Mutation »Radiation

After growing up on a wheat and cattle ranch in Oregon, von Borstel was drafted into the U.S. Navy as a seaman first-class in 1944. Following the Second World War, he pursued his university education in the United States and joined Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 1953, where he studied the effects of radiation on insects, and described the mechanisms by which control of insect pests by X-irradiation is achieved.

From there, he accepted a position as chair of the University of Alberta’s Genetics Department. While there, he received NSERC grants over a 25-year period after the Council was formed. Von Borstel’s principal research efforts were on the causes of spontaneous mutations and how genes repair themselves.

He remained at the university past his mandatory retirement in 1992, continuing research for another 10 years. It was during his "retirement" years that he discovered how DNA and their components, the nucleosides, can repair chromosomes damaged by radiation. This suggests there are many natural ways for animals and humans to heal themselves. Also, he and his colleague Oksana Iavorovska discovered that human ovarian endometriosis is induced in sun-lovers by the ultraviolet radiation in sunlight.

"It’s been a privilege for me to do my work for so long and, as a matter of fact, I wish I was able to continue doing it today," the 82-year-old professor emeritus says. "Just before my laboratory was closed, my team of researchers was studying the number of genes responsible for spontaneous mutation rates in yeast, and in our first random sample we discovered that one-third of them control the mutation rate, and we had expected that only about 4 per cent might affect the rate. This shows that no matter how long you carry out research, there’s always something surprising around the corner."

Doré Dunne | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ualberta.ca

Further reports about: Borstel Mutation Radiation

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

27.02.2017 | Information Technology

Fraunhofer IFAM expands its R&D work on Coatings for protection against corrosion and marine growth

27.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>