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Mathematical model mimics melanoma

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17 October 2018

 

In the left image melanoma cells grown in culture with normal cells form clusters that resemble proto-tumors while in the right image simulations using a modified version of the Widom-Rowlinson model replicate patterns of melanoma cell growth seen in laboratory experiments by controlling the exclusion area -- the amount of space required -- around two types of simulated cells as they grow and spread. Credit: Penn State.Cancer cells’ ability to tolerate crowded conditions may be one key to understanding tumor growth and formation. A mathematical model can replicate patterns of melanoma cell growth seen in laboratory experiments by controlling the “exclusion area”—the amount of space required—around two types of simulated cells as they grow and spread.

“In mixed cultures with normal cells, cancer cells grow and spread quickly, forming clusters of melanoma cells surrounded by non-cancer cells,” said Yuri Suhov, professor of mathematics.

The researchers applied a mathematical model to try to determine what factors explained the pattern of cell growth seen in the laboratory experiments. Their model simulates the growth of two cell types that initially are evenly spaced across a grid. By varying parameters of the model, the researchers can control the rate at which each cell type replicates, dies, and migrates, as well as the required exclusion area around the cells.

“By altering the exclusion distance between the two cell types in the simulations, we were able to replicate the clustered patterns seen in the experiments,” said Izabella Stuhl, visiting assistant professor in mathematics.

“As we continue to refine our model, we may be able to build in parameters that allow us to better understand the precise biological processes that cause tumors to form,” said Suhov.

Read the full story at bit.ly/ECOSv2PR5