7.343 When Development Goes Awry: How Cancer Co-opts Mechanisms of Embryogensis

As taught in: Fall 2009

Two cells, nearly separated, with green, blue, and red stains.

A human melanoma cell undergoing cell division. (Image courtesy of Paul J. Smith & Rachel Errington, Wellcome Images.)




Dr. Etienne Meylan

Dr. Trudy Oliver

Course Description

During this course, we will study the similarities between cancer and normal development to understand how tumors co-opt normal developmental processes to facilitate cancer initiation, maintenance and progression. We will examine critical signaling pathways that govern these processes and, importantly, how some of these pathways hold promise as therapeutic targets for cancer treatment. We will discuss how future treatments might be personalized to target cancer cells in specific patients. We will also consider examples of newly-approved drugs that have dramatically helped patients combat this devastating disease.

This course is one of many Advanced Undergraduate Seminars offered by the Biology Department at MIT. These seminars are tailored for students with an interest in using primary research literature to discuss and learn about current biological research in a highly interactive setting. Many instructors of the Advanced Undergraduate Seminars are postdoctoral scientists with a strong interest in teaching.