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Researchers closer to understanding how certain cancers resist treatment

A Virginia Tech cancer biologist has led an international, multi-institutional team to discover that an abnormal amount of chromosomes may be why certain cancers resist medical treatment.

Specifically, the team found that when certain cancer cells have abnormal amounts of chromosomes – a condition known as aneuploidy – they grow and adapt in conditions that are characteristic of a tumor’s environment. This includes within the presence of a chemotherapeutic drug.

“We found that cells with incorrect chromosome numbers grow better than cells with normal chromosome numbers when exposed to stress,” said Daniela Cimini, associate professor of biological sciences in the College of Science, a Fralin Life Science Institute affiliate, and a biology fellow at the Biocomplexity Institute at Virginia Tech.

Chromosomes from one of the aneuploid cell lines with a third chromosome
Virginia Tech cancer biologist Daniela Cimini has led a team to find that cancer cells grow faster and become more invasive when they have an abnormal amount of chromosomes, which is a condition known as aneuploidy. Pictured here are chromosomes from one of the aneuploid cell lines with a third chromosome (in pink)
Image courtesy of Daniela Cimini