The linear process of somatic evolution

Martin A. Nowak, Franziska Michor, Yoh Iwasa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

143 Citations (Scopus)


Cancer is the consequence of an unwanted evolutionary process. Cells receive mutations that alter their phenotype. Especially dangerous are those mutations that increase the net reproductive rate of cells, thereby leading to neoplasia and later to cancer. The standard models of evolutionary dynamics consider well mixed populations of individuals in symmetric positions. Here we introduce a spatially explicit, asymmetric stochastic process that captures the essential architecture of evolutionary dynamics operating within tissues of multicellular organisms. The "linear process" has the property of canceling out selective differences among cells yet retaining the protective function of apoptosis. This design can slow down the rate of somatic evolution dramatically and therefore delay the onset of cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14966-14969
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number25
Publication statusPublished - Dec 9 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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