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On 2014, April 18th, searching PubMed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed) with the string “cancer” returned 2 935 976 entries, of which 2 887 919 were published in the past 70 y, i.e., between 1944 and 2013. Interestingly, while the number of scientific publications dealing with cancer grew linearly until 1983 (1944 to 1983; linear regression equation: y = 877.86x – 2E + 06; R2 = 0.971), the trend became almost perfectly exponential thereafter (1994 to 2013; exponential regression equation: y = 7E – 37e0.0472x; R2 = 0.988) (Fig. 1).
This basically means that the scientific and medical interest in cancer has not ceased to increase throughout the last 7 decades, irrespective of the diagnostic and therapeutic successes that have been achieved. However, the concept of malignancy itself has dramatically changed, especially during the past 10 y. Cancer is no longer seen as a merely cell-intrinsic disease but is perceived as an entity that originates, evolves, and responds to stimuli (including all forms of therapy) in the context of an intimate crosstalk with its microenvironment. This includes not only endothelial and stromal cells, but also immune cells as well as enzymatic and structural constituents of the extracellular matrix. Along similar lines, the notion that the cells making up a neoplastic lesion would be relatively homogenous, when not clonally identical, has been discarded. Rather, it is now clear that malignant cells can be very heterogeneous and generate functionally-distinct compartments, including a stem cell-like niche that (at least in some cases) accounts for the proliferative and regenerative potential of the disease. Finally, it has recently been recognized that neoplastic cells exhibit metabolic alterations that intimately accompany (and hence cannot be discriminated from) all other facets of malignant transformation.
All these conceptual shifts have already had or will have tremendous therapeutic implications. For instance, several agents that do not directly kill (or inhibit the proliferation of) malignant cells but exert robust antineoplastic effects as they target the tumor-stroma interaction or (re)activate anticancer immune responses have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory agencies worldwide. Targeting the cancer stem cell compartment has been show to mediate superior antineoplastic effects in (at least some) rodent tumor models, and attempts to translate this hitherto experimental approach into a clinical reality into are underway. Similarly, very encouraging results have been obtained with chemical inhibitors of metabolic pathways that are specifically deregulated in some forms of tumors, and clinical trials testing the actual therapeutic value of this strategy are currently ongoing.
This is where cancer research stands today, when we decided to launch Molecular and Cellular Oncology (MCO). MCO wants to approach such a huge area of fundamental and clinical investigation from a modern standpoint, focusing not only on malignant cells and their genetic, epigenetic and biochemical defects, but also on the intimate crosstalk between neoplastic cells and their microenvironment. The Editorial Board of MCO reflects such a multidisciplinary attitude, as it currently includes more than 150 top-class scientists working on areas as different as oncogene signaling, metabolism, angiogenesis, cell death, and oncoimmunology. Our feeling is that MCO has the potential to become a useful resource for the field, and we thank you, readers, patients, physicians and scientists for joining us in this endeavor.
Citation: Galluzzi L, Kroemer G. Molecular and Cellular Oncology: A new journal for a changing field. Molecular and Cellular Oncology 2014; 1:e29052; 10.4161/mco.29052
No potential conflicts of interest were disclosed.