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Physics, Math Provide Clues to Unraveling Cancer
Date:1/30/2009

naling 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.

A review article about mathematical modeling appears in the Jan. 15 issue of Cancer Research, authored by Merajver, Jackson and Alejandra Ventura, Ph.D., a senior postdoctoral fellow in internal medicine at U-M.

Funding for this work is primarily from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Reference: Cancer Research, Vol. 69, No. 2, pp. 400-402

Resources:

U-M Cancer AnswerLine, 800-865-1125

U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, www.mcancer.org


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SOURCE University of Michigan Health System
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