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Rethinking Cancer

A New Paradigm for the Postgenomics Era (Vienna Series in Theoretical Biology)

Bernhard Strauss (Editor), Marta Bertolaso (Editor), Ingemar Ernberg (Editor), Mina J. Bissell (Editor)


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Leading scientists argue for a new paradigm for cancer research, proposing a complex systems view of cancer supported by empirical evidence.

Current consensus in cancer research explains cancer as a disease caused by specific mutations in certain genes. After dramatic advances in genome sequencing, never before have we known so much about the individual cancer cell--and yet never before has it been so unclear what to do with this knowledge. In this volume, leading researchers argue for a new theory framework for understanding and treating cancer. The contributors propose a complex systems view of cancer, presenting conceptual building blocks for a new research paradigm supported by empirical evidence.

The contributors first discuss the new research framework in terms of theoretical foundations and then take up the relevance of a systems approach, reviewing such topics as nonlinearity, recurrence after treatment, the cellular attractor concept, network theory, and non-coding DNA--the "dark matter" of our genome. They address the temporality of cancer progression, drawing on evolutionary theory and clinical experience. Finally, they cover the dominant role of the tissue microenvironment in cancer, analyzing topics including altered metabolic pathways, the disease-defining influence on metastasis, and the interconnectedness of different environmental niches across levels of organization.

The MIT Press, 9780262045216, 376pp.

Publication Date: April 27, 2021

About the Author

Bernhard Strauss is Senior Research Associate at Cambridge University. Marta Bertolaso is Associate Professor of Philosophy of Science, Faculty of Engineering, University Campus Bio-Medico of Rome. Ingemar Ernberg leads the Ingemar Ernberg Group in the Department of Microbiology, Tumor, and Cell Biology at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. Mina J. Bissell is Distinguished Scientist in the Biological Systems and Engineering Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.