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Cancer

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Cancer

Postby nickb79 » Thu Aug 14, 2008 3:53 pm

A thought just occurred to me and I was hoping to get some other viewpoints.

If we look back to the distant past when living organisms were mostly single-celled, it seems that some percentage of them must have developed into something resembling a cancerous cell, just by chance mutations. Since these cells would be divide rapidly, it seems they would outstripe production of "normal" cells and would monopolize available resources.

Cancer is detrimental to a complex multicellular organism, but seems an advantage to single celled organisms. Just look at the HeLa cell lines.

So, why isn't the planet crawling with "immortal" single celled organisms that reproduce at a fantastic rate instead of the multitude of complex organisms we see today? Why did group cooperation at the expense of the individual win out?

Thanks in advance for your comments.
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Postby mith » Thu Aug 14, 2008 5:39 pm

Yes, they're called bacteria.
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Postby canalon » Thu Aug 14, 2008 5:55 pm

As mith say, because most of the organisms you see are living off what becteria are not using :-)
But also because sometimes cooperation is more efficient than selfishness.
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Postby Darby » Thu Aug 14, 2008 8:53 pm

Cancer cells need a support system - advanced cancers have no function beyond feeding and dividing, which is easier to do in a multicelled system - and even then, it will eventually draw enough resources to kill the organism. Free single cells have more to do than just feed and reproduce.
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Postby alextemplet » Fri Aug 15, 2008 3:13 am

nickb79 wrote:So, why isn't the planet crawling with "immortal" single celled organisms that reproduce at a fantastic rate instead of the multitude of complex organisms we see today? Why did group cooperation at the expense of the individual win out?


The vast majority of organisms on the planet are microbes, so single-celled organisms are still the dominant life form.
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