Controlling cancer depends on controlling tissue microenvironments, according to researcher James DeGregori. “There's going to be pressure on cells in the lungs of a smoker to adapt to that new environment,” he explains, “and by adapting to it, it can basically favor new phenotypes that could lead to a malignancy that could lead to the initiation of a cancer.”
He and Richard discuss the initiation of cancer and cancer evolution, opening up an exciting path toward prevention.
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How cancer development stems from our own cells "going rogue" in concert with selective pressures, like carcinogenic conditions, in their tissue environment, Why, therefore, random mutations are important in the initiation of cancer, but not enough to explain its growth, Why effective prevention of cancer lies with controlling tissue microenvironments, and How modulating inflammation affects carcinogenesis pathology and may be key in cancer prevention. James DeGregori is the Courtenay C. and Lucy Patten Davis Endowed Chair in Lung Cancer Research, which is part of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
He explains that genetics, biochemistry, and cell biology work together to prepare the ground for cancer growth. While cancer diagnosis and therapeutics often begin further down the line followed by chemotherapy procedures, researchers like DeGregori are trying to reconfigure the conditions that allow its beginnings.
He says it’s a matter of cells adapting to fit a changing tissue environment; therefore, staving off that change in environment looks to be essential. That means addressing chronic inflammation, inflammation that might come from smoking and lungs failure and other stressors.
But not all inflammation is created equal, and simply preventing it entirely can lead to the inability to fight off infections, for which inflammation is necessary. He adds that "there's two sides to every process, and while too much inflammation is bad, we do need inflammation to fight off infections, to repair our tissues, and other processes."He and colleagues are working on finding that balance as well as identifying which patients could benefit the most.
Listen in for more about how researchers are arresting cancer growth through addressing cell stress, cell aging, and inflammation.
Episode also available on Apple Podcasts: apple.co/30PvU9C