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Samarasinghe, 2013-2014

Buddhini Samarasinghe, “The Hallmarks of Cancer, Parts 1-9,” Scientific American, September 1, 2013-October 8, 2014.


The Hallmarks of Cancer are the ten characteristics that differentiate a cancer cell from a normal cell. Over the course of a year, science translator Dr. Buddhini Samarasinghe tackled each of the the ten Hallmarks of Cancer in a guest blog series for Scientific American.

The blogs break down the basic biology of each Hallmark and what happens when the system breaks down. It is important to understand these Hallmarks as we investigate the influence of chemicals and how they may act individually and in groups to disrupt enough of these Hallmark mechanisms to cause cancer.

Why is this paper so important? Cancer, as we know by now, is an incredibly complicated disease. A single tumor sample could have over a hundred different mutations; nearly one in every two hundred genes in the human genome. If two breast cancer specimens are compared, the set of mutated genes are far from identical. Every tumor is unique. Weinberg and Hanahan simplified this dauntingly complex disease to six underlying principles. The hugely complicated beast that is cancer, so diverse that even the same organ can have many different tumor types, was reduced to just six common traits that every single cancer shares, to facilitate that transformation from a normal cell to a cancer cell. It answers the ‘how does cancer happen’ question very elegantly, and we gain insight into all the different things that go wrong in a cancer cell.  FULL TEXT

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