some researchers now suggest an alternate, controversial theory for how this resistance develops — cancer-killing drugs trigger resistance in the very cells they were supposed to kill, a concept presented and reviewed May 12 in the British Journal of Cancer.
they note that a single human genome can generate a multitude of distinct cell types, or phenotypes, even without any alterations to their genomes. This property, called “phenotypic plasticity,” can lead cells to even switch phenotypes, which can be passed, some suggest, to subsequent generations.
It’s a controversial notion, but could potentially explain what many researchers and clinicians have observed. “It’s pretty clear that some cancer cells are inherently resistant to therapy not because they acquired mutations,” says neurosurgeon and cancer biologist Eric Holland, director of the human biology division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.