In today’s Academic Minute, Dr. Amina Eladdadi of the College of Saint Rose explains how mathematical models can help physicians predict the growth of cancerous tumors.
Amina Eladdadi is an assistant professor of mathematics at the College of Saint Rose where her research interests include mathematical and computational modeling in life sciences and the development of multiscale cancer simulations. She holds a Ph. D. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Dr. Amina Eladdadi – Mathematical Models of Cancer Growth
Cancer is the outcome of uncontrolled cell division due to mutations in a person’s DNA. In the battle against cancer, one of the clues that researchers look for is the rate of cancer cell proliferation. Higher rates are a key component of aggressive cancer types.
Cancer researchers are turning to mathematical models to help answer important questions, such as how fast will tumors grow or how quickly will cancer cells develop resistance to chemotherapy? In my research, I use mathematical models to predict the rate at which a specific type of breast cancer known as HER2-positive will spread. These cancer cells frequently have extra copies of certain genes, a phenomenon called gene amplification, which results in a higher number of the HER2 receptors on the cell surface.
When the number of the HER2 receptors is available for measurement from a patient biopsy, I use the data to simulate my mathematical model, telling me how fast these cancer cells will grow. An extended version of the same model helps predict interactions between HER2 and other receptors at the cell surface. This adds to an increase in proliferation rates associated with tumor growth.
While there is not always a mathematical solution to every problem in biology and medicine, mathematical modeling can certainly provide insights into cancer progression and response to chemotherapy. That is why it has recently been added as a powerful tool in the fight against cancer.