Cell communication is essential for life. Carried out in various ways, including through electromagnetic, chemical, and sensory signals, cellular communication underlies the development and activity of every cell. It is just beginning to be understood. However, what is well known is that cell communication can break down, resulting in various diseases and can also devolve into uncontrolled cell growth, often leading to cancer.
Cancer can occur in many ways, but it always requires multiple signaling breakdowns. Often, cancer begins when a cell gains the ability to grow and divide even in the absence of a signal. Ordinarily this unregulated growth triggers a signal for self-destruction. But when the cell also loses the ability to respond to death signals, it divides out of control, forming a tumor. Later, cell communication events cause blood vessels to grow into the tumor, enabling it to grow larger. Additional signals allow the cancer to spread to other parts of the body. In cancer, the cellular communication systems provide potential targets for therapeutic intervention by “intercepting” signals and inhibiting the growth of tumors.
Basic research in biomedical sciences involves elucidating the mechanisms that drive diseases; clinical research addresses the complexity inherent in disease states, which is key to identifying the targets for pharmacological intervention. A combination of both these distinct approaches is needed for understanding human diseases, the majority of which are by nature multi-faceted and evolve over time. Translational research embodies such an amalgamation, by which lab science is translated to the intricacy of the ‘real’ world
The goal of this joint conference on cell communication in translational research, is to bring together researchers of these two intellectual powerhouses in order to provide a platform for continuing dialogue and to subsequently launch productive collaborations addressing the questions and problems at the heart of the battle against cancer.
Irit Sagi, Weizmann Institute of Science
Joaquin Arribas, VALL D’HEBRON Institute of Oncology