chapter  1
32 Pages

Cell Biology and Cancer

We are made from cells, and cells are the functional unit of life. This means that life exists at cellular level. In single cell animals (like amoeba) the one cell does everything the animal needs to live. In the human (and other multicellular animals) however, individual cells provide only a contribution towards the life of the whole being. Cells are specialised in their function, and as such each individual cell plays just a small part in the total existence of its owner. No single cell can exist without the contribution of all the others. This is both good and bad for humans. Good because a single cell animal is unable to achieve what multicellular animals can. This is because it is not possible to pack the sophisticated biochemistry that makes up a multicellular animal’s complex life into just one cell. The burden must be shared over millions of cells. By doing just that humans can build fast cars, understand the atom and walk on the moon. How many amoebae can claim those achievements? But it is also bad because failure of just a few specialised cells can jeopardise the very existence of all the others, and this is what happens in cancer.