Cancer researcher Mina Bissell prides herself in thinking outside the box. For decades she has pursued the idea that a cancer cell takes cues from its environment on how to develop instead of the held belief that it automatically becomes a tumor. In a healthy body, normal tissue homeostasis will inhibit the progression of cancers. But once the environment is altered, from an injury or wound for example, the balance is shifted. “Context overrides,” Bissell said. “In different contexts, cells do different things.” In a 1997 experiment, mutated mammary cells were dosed with an antibody, placed in a normal environment and started behaving normally. “If it’s true that architecture is dominant, an architecture restored to a cancer cell should make the cell think it’s normal,” Bissell said.

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