Cell fusion triggers multiple genetic changes that convert normal cells to cancer cells
Although there is no one established universal cause of cancer, genetic changes are central to its development. The accumulation of spontaneous genetic changes, or mutations, that occur when cells divide can be hastened by exposure to carcinogens such as cigarette smoke (lung cancer) and infectious agents such as the papillomavirus (cervical cancer). However, some researchers believe that spontaneous mutations are too infrequent, and the link between carcinogens and genetic changes too uncertain, to fully explain the development of some of the most common cancers. The results of this study may provide an explanation: that fusion of one normal cell with another — as observed in inflammation, infection, and injury from carcinogens — triggers a ‘genomic catastrophe’ that converts normal cells to cancer cells and enables tumors to form.