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Physics and Mathematics to Help Fighting Tumors
January 14, 2010 17:27

Breast cancer cell

Russian physicists developed a physical and mathematical model of a malignant tumor, which can help telling whether anti-tumor therapy would be effective or not and predicting behavior of cancer cells.

Growth of a malignant tumor is determined by a number of factors. A model of the Russian scientists, which are employed in the Institute of Physics of Russian Academy of Sciences, considers several of these factors, and among them there is the fact that tumor cells run out of nutrients by consuming them, and cells, located at tumor rims, get the major parts of nutrients. The model regards tumor as some king of growth, which consists of inactive, nearly dead cells in the middle, and active cells, located peripherally. This is the reason why tumor growth tends to slow down, and its dimensions grow linearly, rather than exponentially. The authors of the model didn’t try to simulate experimental data, they did their best to predict them, using fundamental biological principles, and succeeded.

Another factor, which was considered by the Russian scientists in their model, was cell mobility in living tissue. Each cubic centimetre of living tissue can contain up to 106-108 cancer cells, and after several divisions, cell density (the number of cells in one cubic centimetre) increases until cells start spreading around and leaving their mother-tumor. Such behavior of malignant cells is very similar to that of incompressible liquid, and authors paid attention to this in their mathematical model. The model is a perfect tool for predicting how far dangerous malignant cells have moved, what is the possibility of metastasis and telling how effective therapy would be.



The third important thing, to which scientists didn’t forget to pay attention in their model, is extremely intensive growth of blood vessels, which carry nutrients to cancer cells. If this nutrient supply would be interrupted, tumor growth might slow down and even stop. Scientists from other countries have developed new anti-tumor agents, which act as a “plug” for blood supply to a malignant growth. The model, developed by the Russian physicists, can predict which pharmaceutical agents, aimed at stopping blood supply to cancer cells, would be most efficient.

Scientists are currently testing their model during independently performed experiments. Existing experimental methods and facilities allow determining almost all free parameters of the new models, however, this process is quite expensive. Russian scientists try to find a compromise between costs and efficiency with the help of their foreign colleagues, who provide necessary experimental data, since in Russia hardware, required for such work, is used for therapy and not for fundamental research.

Researchers keep working on their model, expanding its functions and adding new parameters, which take into consideration deep processes of tumor incidence and growth.

Source: Science & Life

Kizilova Anna

Tags: Russian Scientists     

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