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School of Physics Colloquium: Eshel Ben-Jacob, Tel Aviv University, Israel
Cancer continues to elude us. Metastasis, relapse and drug resistance are all still poorly understood and clinically insuperable. Evidently, the prevailing paradigms need to be re-examined and out-of-the-box ideas ought to be explored. Recently, has become acknowledged that transformative convergence of physical sciences with life sciences can bring forth new perspectives for addressing major questions and challenges relating to cancer. Drawing upon recent discoveries demonstrating the parallels between collective behaviors of bacteria and cancer, I will present a new picture of cancer as a society of smart communicating cells motivated by the realization of bacterial social intelligence. There is growing evidence that cancer cells, much like bacteria do, rely on advanced communication, social networking and cooperation to grow, spread within the body, colonize new organs, relapse and develop drug resistance. I will address the role of communication, cooperation and decision-making in bacterial collective navigation, swarming logistics and colony development. This will lead to a new picture of cancer cell migration, metastasis colonization and cell fate determination. I will reason that the new understanding calls for “cyber war” on cancer – the developments of drugs to target cancer communication and control.