Cancers are produced by cells that have gone mad. Normal cells, on the other hand, are the sanest things in the world. They are polite and enjoy
the company of other cells. As a community, they work together for the good of the many, are well organized, hardworking, and content with
their lot in life. Heart cells enjoy pumping blood, brain cells would not change places with skin cells for anything under the Sun, and no way
would any of them do anything that would jeopardize the health of the body they so carefully constructed. Cancer cells do not care about any of
this. They do what they want and go where they please. If they decide to build a large tumor in the middle of the brain,well, that is what they are
going to do, even if it kills the body they are living in.
Taming a cancer cell is hard to do and usually fails. Normally, surgeons just cut them out or try to kill them in some way. It is a brutal
game from start to finish. But advances in the past 10 years are making it possible to deal with this disease in a more elegant fashion. Scientists
know now that a cancer cell’s madness is a fever of the genes, a fever that destroys the cell’s communication network and its ability to control its
own reproduction.Many of the affected genes have been identified, and by restoring them to health we can stop the cancer.
Although cancers have been diagnosed for the past 100 years, physicians were at a loss to explain the underlying causes of the disease.
Throughout much of the 1900s, scientists believed that cancer was caused by a microbial infection. Indeed, certain tumors found in chickens,
known as sarcomas, were shown to be infected with a virus, but most human cancers showed no such infection. Consequently, the cause
of this disease remained a mystery for many years even after the introduction of recombinant DNA technology in the 1970s.Many investigators
at that time believed the cell’s genes were the main culprit, but there seemed to be no way to identify those genes or even to estimate the
number of genes that might be involved.