Biology of cancer

The role of genetics 13 Molecular biology techniques 15 Cell cycle and its regulation 21 Growth of cancer 25

Oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes 27 Cytogenetics and cancer 32

Molecular biology is an approach to understanding how organisms work by studying the molecules—in particular nucleic acids that encode genetic information and proteins that process this information and carry out activities in cells. It is grounded in other scientific fields, particularly biochemistry, chemistry, microbiology, genetics, and maths/computer science.

Molecular biology is a development of biochemistry, with less emphasis on the chemistry of biological molecules and more on how they function within cells and organisms. To study this, convenient biological systems are needed and microbiology plays a crucial role. Yeast and bacteria are often used in experiments because they are simple, cheap, and ethically acceptable. In cancer, there are two excellent recent examples of this:

♦ Understanding of the cell cycle (work with yeast).

♦ Repair of damaged DNA (using the bacterium Escherichia colt).

Although humans and micro-organisms are a long way apart in evolutionary terms, their fundamental cellular processes are remarkably similar.

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