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Scientists use math to create personalized cancer therapies

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Posted 6 days ago

Scientists are talking about personalized cancer treatment for decades. Each body is different and each cancer case is at least a little bit different, which is why personalized, custom-tailored treatment strategies are desired. And now this goal is coming closer to reality as scientists from the University of Waterloo found a way to calculate the interactions between the immune system and different types of cancer cells using math.

Mathematical model helps choosing the most effective therapies and arranging them in the most effective order. Image credit: Jakembradford via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

There are thousands of ways to treat cancer. Really. But choosing a particular therapy is up to the doctor, who has to deal with the pressure and an immense amount of data. And so, they are pretty much forced to stay with standard treatments, which are not personalized. Now scientists used their math model to see that using several different treatments in a particular order could be the most effective way to fight tumours. In this way it is possible to attack the stem cells that are inside of these tumours driving their growth. If this particular method works, it would be possible to destroy stem cells in tumours, stopping their growth.

Scientists adjusted their mathematical model with experimental data gathered in studies on tumour growth and immunotherapy treatments. Then they used the model to calculate the effects of chemotherapy in combination with different types of immunotherapies. This method allows finding the most effective combination. Not only it helps choosing between the different therapies, but it also allows arranging them in the most effective order. And that order could be different for each patient, for each case, making the treatment as effective as possible, even without creating new drugs.

So far this study has proven that this approach is a good way to combat cancer and reduce the possibility of a relapse. Michelle Przedborski, one of the authors of the study, said: “The numerical simulations predicted that giving cancer stem-cells specific immunotherapy before chemotherapy is most effective at reducing tumour size. While cancer stem cells comprise only a small percentage of the tumour cells, they drive tumour growth, are often resistant to treatments, and can eventually contribute to relapse if left unchecked.”

Math is the language how the universe was written. And it is used in modern medicine. However, this would be a brand new application that could yield the most effective cancer therapies ever. Hopefully, it will be perfected and applied in a clinical setting.

 

Source: University of Waterloo

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