Model brings light to the life of a tumor

Researchers working in the lab of Salvatore Torquato, a professor of chemistry at Princeton University, developed a computer model that simulates scenarios of growth that lead to tumor proliferation, suppression or dormancy.

Some cancers are present but dormant for up to 25 years before becoming malignant and wreaking havoc on the body. According to the study, published in PLOS ONE, Torquato adn his team used medically realistic scenarios based on the interaction of the tumor cells with nearby dead cells and the suppression of the body’s immune system as guidelines for the computer system. Once programmed, the simulation shows what happens between the environmental factors and the tumor that may effect growth.The researchers included phenotypic changes, rate and strength of suppression factors, like the immune system, and mechanical properties that could affect the growth of tumors.

Duyu Chen, a graduate student at the lab said in a statement that researchers were surprised to see a phenomena where the tumor rapidly divided. Researchers have see the phenomena in a clinical setting, but this was the first time they observed emergent switch behavior in a model. One of the findings was that harsh environments with high density and pressure suppressed some tumors.

The results may help to shed light on the basic understanding of cancer dormancy.

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