Researchers at the B.C. Cancer Agency have made a new discovery in cell division that could offer insight into how cancer divides and grows, and how best to treat it.
The scientists have found that when a cell divides to create an identical copy — or a daughter cell — the identical copies of chromosomes are not always randomly distributed to the daughter cell, said Dr. Ester Falconer, a post-doctorate fellow at the Agency and lead author of the study.
“Because those copies are identical, it was always thought it didn’t matter which copy went to which cell,” Falconer said. “But we learned that’s not always true, and in some cells it’s not a random process.”
Researchers propose that this mechanism could have a role in determining the fate of cells in the abnormal growth of cancer cells. Dr. Peter Lansdorp, principal investigator, said the study provides important groundwork for future research.
“Future studies will use this approach, with the hope that researchers will develop a better understanding of how normal cells divide and how cancer starts and progresses at the cellular level,” he said.