In two of my earlier posts - on micro-RNAs and PARP inhibitors - I forgot to add what is really exciting about these developments.
Why is it that cancers are so dangerous? It is because they have lost a control mechanism that would normally prevent them from proliferating in this way. What these topics tell us is that the point of survival advantage is also their point of vulnerability.
Think of the cancer as the young man on a motor cycle. He abandons the rules of the road and races away at the lights. But his very lack of care is what causes him to have an accident. Thus in CLL with an ATM deletion there is a defect in DNA repair. This gives the CLL clone a survival advantage over other B cells, and allows it to develop further DNA damage, but it is only because it has the ATM deletion that it is vulnerable to PARP inhibitors. If you like it is like Judo - you use the cancer's strength against itself.