Based at the Moffitt Cancer Center, Florida, Cancer Ecology is a small research group led by David Basanta. We are mathematical modellers who work with biologists and clinicians, trying to understand the ecology of tumors and the evolutionary dynamics of cancer progression and resistance to treatment.

Another model of bone metastatic prostate cancer

Another model of bone metastatic prostate cancer

Arturo and Leah Cook (then at the Lynch lab, now with her own lab at the University of Nebraska) produced a nice computational model of bone metastatic prostate cancer [1] which we used to investigate successful establishment of metastases [2] and novel ways to treat the disease [3].

Given all that, it is not unreasonable to question the need for another mathematical model of bone metastatic prostate cancer by the same group and yet here we are. Our latest paper, entitled Fractionated Follow-Up Chemotherapy Delays the Onset of Resistance in Bone Metastatic Prostate Cancer, does precisely that. So here are two reasons but I am sure there are more: 1) some models are better at capturing the details of a biological process and others better at describing the process in a more global manner more suitable to analysis or quick simulations and 2) to ask the same question in a different way so that, with similar assumptions but different tools, we can see if we arrive to similar conclusions.

Using evolutionary game theory, we created a game where bone producing osteoblasts and bone resorpting osteoclasts balance each other depending on the amount of bone so that homeostasis is maintained.

figure_1.png

Things change when tumor cells come in, they do mess things up and the tumor population takes over leading to extra bone being formed (left image). Treatment can potentially control this (center image) but only if there are no resistant populations (right image).

So the game considers all these scenarios, and the impact of the tumor on the bone stroma is comparable to what we found out on our agent-based model as well as what was reported before. Now, because it's easy to play with different treatment scenarios in this model, Raj explored a number of scenarios where treatment was either on or off. We looked at the impact of those treatments on the tumor population and bone.

final.png

We expected a showdown between purely continuous treatments and those applied intermittent. Interestingly the ones that seem to perform better are the hybrid ones where a sustained application of therapy  is followed by the alternation of treatment which allows us to control burden for longer periods of time while also reining on the amount of bone formed.

Etienne at Moffitt's 2018 Scientific Symposium

Etienne at Moffitt's 2018 Scientific Symposium

Abena Annor joins our group as a RISE scholar

Abena Annor joins our group as a RISE scholar