‘The common biology of cancer and aging’

In yesterday’s issue of Nature, Toren Finkel, Manuel Serrano and Maria Blasco (the latter two of whom were authors on the p53/Arf paper we discussed earlier this week, and the former of whom is no slouch) have a full-length review of the relationship(s) between cancer and aging:

At first glance, cancer and ageing would seem to be unlikely bedfellows. Yet the origins for this improbable union can actually be traced back to a sequence of tragic—and some say unethical—events that unfolded more than half a century ago. Here we review the series of key observations that has led to a complex but growing convergence between our understanding of the biology of ageing and the mechanisms that underlie cancer.

The piece begins with a historical perspective on the origins of cell culture technology, which has been critical to the study of both cancer and aging, and then dives into the dense web of connections between the two fields:

  • Cellular senescence, a function of aging as well as genotoxic damage, as a block to tumor formation;
  • Genomic instability, a common feature of both aged and neoplastic cells;
  • The roles of telomeres, telomerase and the ALT telomere maintenance pathway in cellular aging, tumor viability and progeroid syndromes;
  • Autophagy, as a means of preventing cancer and increasing lifespan;
  • Important players metabolic pathways (TOR, SIRT1, FOXO); and
  • Stem cells, as a source of both regenerative capacity and tumors.

In other words, this review risks making this humble blog altogether redundant.

What are you still doing here?


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