Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Using math to kill cancer cells

14.06.2013
Here's a good reason to pay attention in math class. Nature Communications has published a paper from Ottawa researchers today, outlining how advanced mathematical modelling can be used in the fight against cancer.

The technique predicts how different treatments and genetic modifications might allow cancer-killing, oncolytic viruses to overcome the natural defences that cancer cells use to stave off viral infection.

"Oncolytic viruses are special in that they specifically target cancer cells," explains Dr. Bell, a senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and professor at the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Medicine. "Unfortunately, cancer is a very complicated and diverse disease, and some viruses work well in some circumstances and not well in others. As a result, there has been a lot of effort in trying to modify the viruses to make them safe, so they don't target healthy tissue and yet are more efficient in eliminating cancer cells."

Dr. Bell and co-author Dr. Mads Kaern, an assistant professor in the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Medicine and Canada Research Chair at the University's Ottawa Institute of Systems Biology, led a team that has used mathematical modelling to devise strategies for making cancer cells exquisitely sensitive to virus infection — killing them without affecting normal, healthy cells.

"By using these mathematical models to predict how viral modifications would actually impact cancer cells and normal cells, we are able to accelerate the pace of research," says Dr. Kaern, who is also cross-appointed to the University's Department of Physics. "It allows us to quickly identify the most promising approaches to be tested in the lab, something that is usually done through expensive and time-consuming trial and error."

Drs. Bell and Kaern have established a mathematical model that described an infection cycle, including the way a virus replicated, spread and activated cellular defense mechanisms. From there, they used knowledge about key physiological differences between normal cells and cancer cells to identify how modifying the genome of the virus might counter the anti-viral defenses of cancer cells. Model simulations were remarkably accurate, with the identified viral modifications efficiently eradicating cancer in a mouse model of the disease.

"What is remarkable is how well we could actually predict the experimental outcome based on computational analysis," says Dr. Bell. "This work creates a useful framework for developing similar types of mathematical models in the fight against cancer."

The research, funded by an innovation grant from the Canadian Cancer Society, is only the beginning, explains Dr. Kaern. "We worked with a specific kind of cancer cell. We will now expand that to look at other cancer cell types and see to what degree the predictions we made in one special case can be generalized to others, and to identify strategies to target other types of cancer cells."

The findings may also help researchers better understand the interaction between these cancer cells and the virus. While one magic cure-all will likely never happen due to cancer's complexity, the researchers have developed a framework where they can learn more about the disease in the cases where the simulations don't match.

"From my perspective, that's the most interesting part," concluded Dr. Kaern. "The most fascinating thing is to challenge existing knowledge represented in a mathematical model and try to understand why these models sometimes fail. It's a very exciting opportunity to be a part of this, and I am glad that our efforts in training students in computational cell biology have resulted in such a significant advancement."

The full article, "Model-based Rational Design of an Oncolytic Virus with Improved Therapeutic Potential," was published June 14, 2013, in Nature Communications. The article's authors are: Fabrice Le Bœuf, Cory Batenchuk, Markus Vähä-Koskela, Sophie Breton, Dominic Roy, Chantal Lemay, Julie Cox, Hesham Abdelbary, Theresa Falls, Girija Waghray, Harold Atkins, David Stojdl, Jean-Simon Diallo, Mads Kaern and John Bell.

This research was supported by the Hecht Foundation/Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Terry Fox Foundation, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Cancer Research Society and National Science and Engineering Research Council.

For more information:

Paddy Moore
Manager, Communications and Public Relations
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
613-737-8899 x 73687
613-323-5680 (cell)
padmoore@ohri.ca
Kina Leclair
Media Relations Officer
University of Ottawa
613-562-5800 x 2529
613-762-2908 (cell)
kleclair@uOttawa.ca
About the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI)
The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) is the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital and is an affiliated institute of the University of Ottawa, closely associated with the university's Faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences. OHRI includes more than 1,700 scientists, clinical investigators, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff conducting research to improve the understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human disease. Research at OHRI is supported by The Ottawa Hospital Foundation. http://www.ohri.ca

Research Bringing You Tomorrow's Health Care Today
About the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine
The University of Ottawa's Faculty of Medicine is nationally recognized as a leader in medical research. Through their intense research activities, the Faculty of Medicine and affiliated research institute partners have contributed significantly to the following uOttawa milestones: second highest growth rate in overall Tri-Council Funding (all programs) since 2003; second in Canada by MacLean's magazine for medical science grants; and the third highest growth rate in Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) funding for universities with medical schools since 2003.

Paddy Moore | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ohri.ca

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator
23.02.2018 | University of Turku

nachricht Minimising risks of transplants
22.02.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>