Cancer cells behave differently from normal cells. They have adapted to divide despite mitotic errors and thus form daughter cells with abnormalities in the structure and number of chromosomes, allowing for the generation of genetic changes and creation of diversity that allows them to evade the body’s normal responses and even cancer therapies. This process which creates high rates during cancer cell division is called chromosomal instability.

Surviving and thriving despite these abnormal mitotic events is not an easy task for cancer cells. In addition to thwarting the numerous checkpoints and controls that prevent these abnormalities, cancer cells must also perform mitosis with chromosomes that have abnormal structures and numbers. To pull off this feat, cancer cells need to make a series of adaptations, often relying on proteins and processes that healthy cells usually don’t need to perform their orderly and controlled mitosis.

KIF18A is one such protein chromosomally unstable cancer cells need to divide, but that is not necessary for the division of normal cells. This cancer cell-specific reliance creates an opportunity to selectively target cancer cell mitosis to stop cancer in its tracks.