Childhood cancer: The four survival strategies of tumor cells

Cancer cells in children tend to develop by following four main trajectories – and two of them are linked to relapse of the disease, research led by Lund University in Sweden shows. The four strategies can occur simultaneously in a single tumour, according to the study that is now published in Nature Genetics.

The researchers mapped out the genome of cancer cells from more than 50 tumours in order to identify the four strategies. The genome of cancer cells often evolves, both in order to avoid the body’s own defence mechanisms and to survive treatment with chemotherapy or other drugs. When cancer cells multiply, mutations are formed and thus new types of tumour cells, known as clones, can occur.

A challenge when treating patients is that, within a single tumour, there may be several different clones, which individually trigger the development of cancer in varying ways. The clones may also respond to chemotherapy differently. More knowledge about how such clones develop is therefore an important part of improving treatment.

“We wanted to learn more about how some tumours evade treatment and the strategies the cancer cells develop”, explains Jenny Karlsson at Lund University, one of the researchers behind the


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