Cancer 101

Cancer Basics

Cancer can appear in any part of the human body, with many common locations in the skin, brain, stomach, pancreas, lungs and breast.  Cancer is typically caused by a cell mutation that leads to abnormal cell divisions.  The uncontrolled cell divisions leads to proliferation beyond control, with eventual invasion of multiple body tissues.  Cancer cells in one part of the body may very well spread to other parts through the blood and lymphatic systems.  In summary, all cancers originate at the cellular level.

To date, over 100 different types of cancer have been identified, most of them named for the primary organ where they were growing.  According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer is categorized into broad categories including:

  • Sarcoma
  • Carcinoma
  • Lymphoma and Myeloma
  • Leukemia
  • Central Nervous System

There are many cells within the human body that divide and grow in a controlled method and, when these cells die, healthy new cells replenish them.  An example of this is the sloughing off of the skin layer.  Unfortunately, in some cases, this process goes wrong and the genetic makeup of cells become damaged or altered in a way that produces a mutation.  The end result is an effect on typical growth, development and cell division.

Uncontrolled Growth

Carcinomas are cancers that originate in the tissues or skin that line or protect internal organs.  Sarcoma cancers are those that originate in the connective or supportive tissues of the body such as the muscles, cartilage, bones, blood vessels or fat.  Lymphomas and myelomas are cancers that originate in the immune system.  Leukemias are cancers that often originate in blood-forming tissues including bone marrow.  Leukemia does not produce tumors but effects body parts and organs that depend on healthy red and white blood cells for optimal health.

Defective cancerous cells do not die, and as a result, continue to proliferate until forming a mass called a tumor.  In most cases, tumors may be identified as benign or malignant.  A benign tumor is deemed not cancerous while a malignant tumor is cancerous.  Malignant tumors may spread to other body parts in a process called metastasis.

Clinical Difficulties – Mutations

Cancer growth can be fast or slow, but the main issue is that cells continue to divide in a process that is difficult to halt.  All cancers develop or stem from a single ancestral cell and are less differentiated than normal tissue cells.  Cancer cells are believed to develop from what are known as precursor cells, in various tissues.  As cell regeneration happens, DNA of cancerous cells experience an increase in DNA damage.  Eventually, the mutations overcome regulation and develop into uncontrollable cancer cell growth.

Cancer research is an extremely rich and diverse investigational field.  Experiments performed in this area include xenograft animal models, research into apoptosis, the lack of cancer cell becoming senescent, testing novel chemotherapeutics and determining the toxicity of cancer treatments.  In addition, the development of novel stable cell lines aids in cell-based research.

Research biology CRO pre-clinical services include IC50 pharm/tox testing, xenograft animal studies, RNAi services, siRNA and protein liposome encapsulation, in vivo siRNA delivery and tissue-targeting, generation of stable cell lines in 28 days, inducible RNAi cell line development, cell banking and cryopreservation GLP-compliant services, teratoma, RNAi and biodistribution research studies.