Cancer as a phosphorus limited ecosystem

Speaker: Jim Elser, Regents’ Professor in the School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

Location: Biodesign Auditorium

Date & Time: March 11, 2010 12:00 p.m.

Title: Are cancers phosphorus-limited “ecosystems” ?

Abstract: Phosphorus is vital to cell growth, and its supply can be a crucial limiting factor for organism growth in in many ecological situations, such as lakes and grasslands.  What determines an organism’s demand for this important element?  Work with plankton, bacteria, and fruit flies demonstrates a link between growth rates and the investment of P in RNA production, a result that may be understood within the framework of biological stoichiometry (the study of the balance of energy and multiple chemical elements in living systems). Here I’ll describe the application of these ideas to human cancer and present data that provide support for this “Growth Rate Hypothesis” in some types of tumors, including the possibility that tumor growth in the body may be limited by the supply of P.

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