An Evolutionary Connection Between Pregnancy and Cancer Metastasis

Andre Levchenko | Via UConn Today | December 5, 2019

A UConn School of Dental Medicine researcher used pregnancy to unlock a missing link between various species of mammals and cancer malignancy—fundamentally changing the way we look at cancer metastasis.

Kshitiz, assistant professor in the department of biomedical engineering – a shared department between the School of Dental Medicine, School of Medicine, and School of Engineering – and Gunter Wagner and Andre Levchenko at Yale University used evolutionary biology to draw the connection in the Nature Ecology & Evolution journal.

In many mammals, the placenta invades the wall of the uterus during pregnancy in the same way that cancer cells invade surrounding tissues. In other mammals—including cows, pigs, and horses—the placenta does not invade as aggressively. Interestingly, in these mammals, tumors rarely metastasize or spread… Continue reading.