Monday, 29 June 2015

Complexity and stability in growing cancer cell populations

Me and Philipp Altrock recently published a comment on a recent paper by Archetti et al. in PNAS. Their paper was about the dynamics of growth factor production in cancer cells. The study contained some beatiful experimental work, but we had some concerns about the theory presented to explain the data.

Read our comment here, and the response by Archetti et al. here, and judge for yourselves.

Dynamics of tumor growth (1964)

[The tumor] grows as though it were a single organism, rather than as a population of dissociated individual cells, each the progenitor of an independent line of tumor cells, as presumably bacteria and other free cells do when inoculated into a new culture medium. This relation suggests further that the host plus tumor represents a new, integrated system of growth whose nature we do not as yet understand. 
Anna Kane Laird, Dynamics of tumor growth, British Journal of Cancer (1964)
Now, 50 years on some people still think of cancer cells as independent beings that can be eradicated with toxic enough drugs. I think mathematical modeling can and will aid in pushing the above half-century old perspective on cancer.