• Question: Do you know why the cell "suicide" doesn't always work?

    Asked by Nickname to Mariam on 14 Jun 2010 in Categories: .
    • Photo: Mariam Orme

      Mariam Orme answered on 14 Jun 2010:

      Nice name!

      In a few cases, we do know how cancer cells manage to evade the ‘suicide’ program (apoptosis), and here’s an example:

      When apoptosis is triggered, molecules called ‘caspases’ become activated in the cell, and they chew up lots of other molecules to dismantle the cell in a controlled, orderly way. There are some other molecules that help the caspases become active, and in some cancer cells those molecules stop working properly, so the caspases can’t become activated and do their job, so the cell doesn’t die.

      But we certainly don’t know all the ways a cancer cell might be able to stop itself from dying, and that’s a large part of what I’m trying to find out.