Tailoring cancer treatments to individual patients

ScienceDaily | 1/3/2018 | Staff
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But imagine if, instead of Newton's second law of motion, which describes the relationship between an object's mass and the amount of force needed to accelerate it, we only had reams of data related to throwing various objects into the air.

This, says Thomas Yankeelov, approximates the current state of cancer research: data-rich, but lacking governing laws and models.

Solution - Quantities - Patient - Data - Insist

The solution, he believes, is not to mine large quantities of patient data, as some insist, but to mathematize cancer: to uncover the fundamental formulas that represent how cancer, in its many varied forms, behaves.

"We're trying to build models that describe how tumors grow and respond to therapy," said Yankeelov, director of the Center for Computational Oncology at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) and director of Cancer Imaging Research in the LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes of the Dell Medical School. "The models have parameters in them that are agnostic, and we try to make them very specific by populating them with measurements from individual patients."

Center - Computational - Oncology - Part - Institute

The Center for Computational Oncology (part of the broader Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences, or ICES) is developing complex computer models and analytic tools to predict how cancer will progress in a specific individual, based on their unique biological characteristics.

In December 2017, writing in Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering, Yankeelov and collaborators at UT Austin and Technical University of Munich, showed that they can predict how brain tumors (gliomas) will grow and respond to X-ray radiation therapy with much greater accuracy than previous models. They did so by including factors like the mechanical forces acting on the cells and the tumor's cellular heterogeneity. The paper continues research first described in the Journal of The Royal Society Interface in April 2017.

Phase - Data

"We're at the phase now where we're trying to recapitulate experimental data so we have...
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