From the cell to cancer

2019-07-11 13:07:37 2

Title:From the cell to cancer  Speaker:Carlos Sonnenschein, MD


                       (Department of Anatomy and Cellular Biology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston)


 Time:13:00pm, Apr.21, 2014


Address:Rm. 102, Old Chemistry Building, east Wing, 1rd floor, CQB


Abstract:Dr. Sonnenschein and Dr. Soto co-authored a book entitled THE SOCIETY OF CELLS (Bios-Springer-Verlag) in which they critically evaluated the status of research in the fields of control of cell proliferation and carcinogenesis. The major contributions discussed in the book were that a) the default state of all cells in both unicellular and multicellular organisms is proliferation, and that b) the so-called sporadic cancers (over 95% of all clinical cases) represent diseases specifically anchored at the tissue level of biological organization. These postulates are at the core of their theory of carcinogenesis and metastases, that is, the tissue organization field theory (TOFT). 

An almost universally held dogma is that somatic mutation is the cause of this malady of cellular proliferation. However, if cellular proliferation is the default state of all cells, a state that is constrained in multicellular animals by factors or conditions in the cellular environment, it follows that cancer is the result of a failure of these constraints rather than of mutations of oncogenes or tumor-suppressor genes. Put another way, cancer results from a breakdown of tissue organization that disrupts the normal inhibitions of proliferation that are inherent in the tissue architecture of a multicellular society of cells.

      Title:Toward a theory of organisms   Speaker:Ana Soto, MD                       (Department of Anatomy and Cellular Biology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston Blaise Pascal Chair of Biology 2013, Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris France)    

Time:14:00pm, Apr.21, 2014


Address:Rm. 102, Old Chemistry Building, east Wing, 1rd floor, CQB 



The theory of evolution has provided an increasingly adequate explanation of phylogeny. However, biologists have yet to generate a theory of organisms that would encompass ontogeny and life cycles, and thus phenomena on the time-scale from conception to death.


We propose that theoretical extensions of physics are required in order to grasp the living state of matter that will help to describe the proper biological observables, i.e. the phenotypes. Biological entities must also follow the underlying principles that we use to understand the inert matter. However, these physical laws and principles may not suffice to make the biological dynamics intelligible at the phenotypic level. Like Galileo, who proposed a principle of inertia as default state in mechanics, we have proposed two aspects of the default state  in biology, and a framing principle, namely:  i) Default state: cell proliferation with variation as a constitutive property of the living. Variation is generated by the mere fact that cell division generates two overall similar, but not identical cells.  ii) Default state: motility, which encompasses cell and organismic movements as well as movement within cells. iii) Framing principle: life phenomena are never identical iterations of a morphogenetic process. Organisms are the consequence of the inherent variability generated by proliferation, motility and auto-organization which operate within the framing principle.  From these basic premises, we will elaborate on the generation of robustness, the structure of determination, and the identification of biological proper observables.


Host:Professor Shunong BAI