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Chromosomes (blue) line up in the middle of the cell as it prepares to divide.

A dangerous division problem

With millions of cells dividing at any moment in the human body, there are lots of opportunities for something to go wrong. And when errors occur during the division of tumor cells, the results can be deadly. Normally, a human cell replicates each of its 46 chromosomes and then divides the copies between the two cells that result from the division. But tumor cells often "missegregate" a chromosome, meaning that one of the cells ends up with too few or too many chromosomes. Chromosome missegregation can help tumor cells develop resistance to treatment or grow more aggressive, both of which are bad news for patients. DMS professor of biochemistry Duane Compton, Ph.D., has spent years studying how chromosome missegregation happens and what it might be possible to do about it. Read more about his work in this issue's "Faculty Focus. Watch the video below to see examples of chromosome segregation in tumor cells—both when it goes to plan and when it goes awry.

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