Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Tumour "weather forecast" gives new insights in cancer

The aggressiveness of cancer tumours may be determined by the tissue environment in which they grow, new research from the University of Dundee shows.

Dr Sandy Anderson, of the Division of Mathematics at Dundee, has developed a mathematical model - similar in concept to weather forecasting but considerably more complex - which predicts how tumours grow and invade tissue. The results produced by the model have given startling insights into how cancerous tumours develop in the body.

"What this model predicts is that the more barren and harsh the tissue environment surrounding it is, the more aggressive the tumour becomes," said Dr Anderson.

The findings have the potential to impact on how certain cancers are treated, by forcing the environment around the tumour to be considered as a contributory factor in how aggressive the cancer is.

... more about:
»Quaranta »mathematical »predict »tumour

The combination of maths and laboratory research to develop such models has been hailed as a "new era in cancer research" by Professor Vito Quaranta, a leading American cancer biologist who is collaborating on the project.

Professor Quaranta envisions a future when computer simulations like this will be used to predict a tumour’s clinical progression and formulate treatment plans, in a fashion not dissimilar to how we forecast the weather now.

"Today we can know pretty well that for the next few days we’re going to expect good weather or that there’s a storm on the way," said Professor Quaranta. "That’s the kind of predictive power we want to generate with our model for cancer invasion."

Dr Anderson’s research is published in the scientific journal Cell today, December 1st 2006, and is one of the few purely mathematical modelling papers to appear in the history of this prestigious biological journal.

"What our research shows is that the micro-environment in which the tumour grows acts like a Darwinian selective force upon how the tumour evolves," said Dr Anderson.

"Much of current biomedical research being carried out on cancer is done in isolation of the real environment in which the tumour naturally grows, but these results show that this environment could be the crucial determining factor in the tumour's development."

The model developed by Dr Anderson also shows a clear relationship between the shape of a cancer tumour and how aggressive it is. Aggressive tumours tend to assume a spidery shape in the model, while more benign growths are generally more spherical in shape.

"This is important in terms of the surgical removal of tumours," said Dr Anderson. "A model like this could help predict how tumours will grow in different tissue environments, i.e. different areas of the body, and what the best strategy may be to treat them."

"One interesting aspect of this is that if you make the environment the tumour is growing in more harsh or barren, then the more likely it is that any surviving cancer cells will be the most aggressive and hardiest ones."

"This clearly has a potential to impact on how certain cancers are treated, since most of the current treatment strategies are focussed on making the tissue environment as harsh as possible for the tumour in the hope of destroying it. But as my research predicts this could allow the most aggressive cancer cells to dominate any residual tumour left after treatment and since these more aggressive cells tend to be the most invasive, this could result in an increased chance of metastasis."

"In the future this research could help tailor treatment in a patient specific manner, with the mathematical model being an additional weapon in the armoury against cancer."

Dr Anderson is collaborating on his work with experts in cancer biology at Vanderbilt University in the United States, led by Professor Vito Quaranta and Dr. Alissa Weaver in conjunction with Professor Peter Cummings (Chemical Engineering), who are in the process of carrying out the physical validation of the results produced by the mathematical model.

Professor Quaranta hailed the combination of mathematics and laboratory research as a major development in how we approach cancer.

"A new era in cancer research has begun," said Professor Quaranta. "Mathematicians are bringing entirely new vistas to our field, cancer is no longer an ugly beast to defeat, but rather it is a complex process that can be described rationally and conquered perhaps slowly, but surely."

"I have never been more optimistic about our prospects of understanding the inner workings of cancer progression, to the same level we understand other complex processes, such as weather formation, global warming, etc."

"Understanding the individual components of cancer progression is still a necessary task, but it is no longer sufficient: It is how the components interact with each other that determines outcome. Our work shows this clearly, the genetic changes in cancer cells interact dynamically with their immediate surroundings, with outcomes that remind us of the natural selection process in evolution."

"The long-term goal is that, with the tools of mathematical modeling and computer simulation, cancer treatment will no longer be a trial and error guessing game. With mathematics-driven oncology research, we will be able to determine which drugs will work at which stage."

The project has been funded by $15 million from the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Health in the USA.

Roddy Isles | alfa
Further information:

Further reports about: Quaranta mathematical predict tumour

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Don't Give the Slightest Chance to Toxic Elements in Medicinal Products
23.03.2018 | Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)

nachricht North and South Cooperation to Combat Tuberculosis
22.03.2018 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>