Mutating cells can prevent the spread of cancer by flipping themselves into a state of reduced activity called senescence. Cancer genes, however, can retaliate by reviving those cells so they can replicate again. The mechanism for reviving senescent cells, sometimes called zombie cells, was only partially understood. Now, research from Rutgers has traced the process in colorectal cancer cells, and the investigators believe the process is similar in other tumor types.

“Once a cell starts to become cancerous, it begins replicating very quickly, and that triggers senescence,” said lead author Ricardo Iván Martínez-Zamudio, assistant professor of pharmacology at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and research member of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey of the study published in Cell Genomics. “Once the cell becomes senescent, however, it often begins making a particular protein that helps it emerge from senescence.” To read the full story.