PhD project: Computer models of solid tumours

Project description

Modelling cancer has a long history, but only recently researchers began to look at the genetic composition of solid tumours. This is in part motivated by the perceived relationship between genetic heterogeneity of a tumour and the likelihood that chemotherapy will fail to eradicate it. More heterogeneous tumours will harbour more genetic mutations, some of them making cells resistant to treatment. Recently, a simple three-dimensional lattice model [1] demonstrated that heterogeneity is affected by three processes: replication and death of cells, and cellular migration.

The aim of this project will be to develop a more realistic, physics-based, off-lattice model, and use it to investigate how the risk of chemotherapy failure could be minimized. Besides genetic heterogeneity of cancer cells, the model will have to account for a heterogeneous distribution of the chemotherapeutic agent - it has been shown that drug gradients play a major role in speeding
up the evolution of resistance [2].

The project will involve collaboration with Edinburgh researchers (Tibor Antal) as well as overseas groups led by Martin Nowak (Harvard), and Bert Vogelstein (Howard Hughes Medical Institute).

[1] B. Waclaw, I. Bozic, M.E. Pittman, R.H. Hruban, B. Vogelstein, M.A. Nowak, Nature 525 (7568), 261-264 (2015).
[2] P. Greulich, B. Waclaw, and R. Allen., Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 088101 (2012).

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