Biomathematics Seminar: Physical and kinetic aspects of metastasis
13 January 2015 14:00 in Department of Mathematical Sciences
Despite an increasing knowledge of the genetics and molecular mechanisms operating in cancers, progress in novel therapies in recent decades has been slow, with most improvement in survival outcomes due to earlier detection. A key complication is advanced cancers' defining ability to metastasise, during which cancer cells become motile and migrate through surrounding tissue: but how "microscopic" processes occurring on the scale of individual cells determine growth rates and outcomes on the "macro-" scale is not clear. Here we discuss a simple, minimal model of metastasis adapted from mathematical ecology which shows how even rare, local migration can dramatically alter the growth rate of the tumour. This may provide a clue as to why observed in vivo tumour growth rates vary so widely between different cancers and patients despite broadly similar division rates of individual cells. The model also suggests that suppressing migration (one target of experimental biotherapy) could significantly improve outcomes even without increased cell death.
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