When designing new cancer drugs, biologists often target specific gene mutations found only in cancer cells, or in a subset of cancer cells. A team of MIT biologists is now taking a slightly different approach, targeting a trait shared by nearly all cancer cells — they have too many chromosomes.
MIT biology professor Angelika Amon has been studying this peculiarity, known as aneuploidy, for several years. In developing fetuses, aneuploidy causes death or birth defects. However, in cancer cells, aneuploidy appears to confer a survival advantage.