Navigation Links
Physics, math provide clues to unraveling cancer

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Biology exists in a physical world. That's a fact cancer researchers are beginning to recognize as they look to include concepts of physics and mathematics in their efforts to understand how cancer develops -- and how to stop it.

The movement, led by researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, has come to a head with a new section in one of the top cancer research journals and a new grant program from the National Cancer Institute.

Traditional cancer biology involves taking a sample of cells and holding them in time so they can be studied. Then the researchers look at that slice of cells to understand what signals and pathways are involved. But that doesn't capture the full picture, says Sofia Merajver, M.D., Ph.D., co-director of the Breast Oncology Program at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"The living cell is really a dynamic process. We need to consider the properties of physics to help us understand these data. In order to develop a drug directed against a given molecule that has real hope of treating cancer, we need to understand how that molecule is sitting in the cell, interacting with other molecules," says Merajver, professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School.

Merajver and her team have developed a sophisticated mathematical model to help researchers apply these concepts to cancer. The mathematical model is designed to help give researchers a complete picture of how a cell interacts with its surrounding environment. By understanding the full complexity of signaling pathways, researchers can better target treatments and identify the most promising potential new drugs.

Researchers have learned from this modeling that a well-known and major type of signaling pathway naturally transmits information not just in a forward direction, but also backwards. That implies new considerations for developing drugs to inhibit major growth and metastasis pathways in cancer.

This crosstalk was missed by conventional methods. Typically, when scientists begin to look at a cell, they must make assumptions to simplify the picture of what is happening in cells.

"When you make simplifying assumptions, you always run the risk of eliminating critical aspects of your system, but you have no way of knowing what was discarded. When you simplify, you don't know exactly what you're throwing away because you never looked at the complex case," Merajver says. Mathematical modeling allows researchers to look at the complex case more thoroughly.

"To understand how the laws of physics can be applied to biological systems is a new frontier," she says.

Merajver and her colleagues were successful in getting the journal Cancer Research to add a new regular section to the twice-monthly journal precisely focused on mathematical modeling. The journal has also added new editors to its board who have expertise in this discipline. Merajver and Trachette Jackson, Ph.D., professor of mathematics at U-M, will lead this effort as senior editors.


Contact: Nicole Fawcett
University of Michigan Health System

Related biology news :

1. American Physical Society announces Physics, a new, free, online publication
2. M2SYS Partners With Gnosis Medical Services to Provide Accurate Patient Identification in Developing Countries Through Innovative Biometrics Solution
3. Improved e-jet printing provides higher resolution and more versatility
4. Canada provides $1.4M for removal of hazardous trees from provincial recreation sites
5. Fujitsu and HT Systems Partner to Provide Biometric Patient Identity Management
6. Fujitsu and HT Systems Partner to Provide Biometric Patient Identity Management
7. M2SYS Technology Partners with TeraCorp Enterprises to Provide Added Security Within Check Cashing Solution
8. Study involving more than 100 scientists provides new insights on green algae
9. Shell Provides Consumers Gasoline Industrys First Pay By Touch Technology at the Pump
10. Antioxidants could provide all-purpose radiation protection
11. ESA to provide essential launch control services to EUMETSAT
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/22/2016)... -- The American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics was once ... one of the fastest-growing trade shows during the Fastest 50 ... Las Vegas . Winners ... each of the following categories: net square feet of paid ... The 2015 ACMG Annual Meeting was ranked 23 out of ...
(Date:6/16/2016)... 2016 The global ... reach USD 1.83 billion by 2024, according to ... Technological proliferation and increasing demand in commercial buildings, ... drive the market growth.      (Logo: ... development of advanced multimodal techniques for biometric authentication ...
(Date:6/3/2016)... 3, 2016 Das ... Nepal hat ein 44 ... geprägter Kennzeichen, einschließlich Personalisierung, Registrierung und IT-Infrastruktur, ... Produktion und Implementierung von Identitätsmanagementlösungen. Zahlreiche renommierte ... Januar teilgenommen, aber Decatur wurde als konformste ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 Epic ... sensitively detects cancers susceptible to PARP inhibitors by ... tumor cells (CTCs). The new test has already ... therapeutics in multiple cancer types. Over ... DNA damage response pathways, including PARP, ATM, ATR, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Wausau, WI (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 ... ... probiotic supplements, is pleased to announce the launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, ... supplements for over 35 years, is proud to add Target to its list ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Houston Methodist ... the Cy-Fair Sports Association to serve as their ... agreement, Houston Methodist Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, ... connectivity with association coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. ... the Cy-Fair Sports Association and to bring Houston ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016   EpiBiome , ... secured $1 million in debt financing from Silicon Valley ... up automation and to advance its drug development efforts, ... new facility. "SVB has been an incredible ... the services a traditional bank would provide," said Dr. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: