Stem cells, branching processes and stochasticity in cancer

Another great blog post by Artem Kaznatcheev about the Cancer Ecology workshop we organised a little bit over a month ago at the MBI at the Ohio State University. Branching process are important when modelling hierarchical tissues (with stem cells) so I will be happy to work with Artem on that while he is at Moffitt. Other great examples of how this particular mathematical tool can help us understand different aspects of cancer are shown as well.

Theory, Evolution, and Games Group

When you were born, you probably had 270 bones in your body. Unless you’ve experienced some very drastic traumas, and assuming that you are fully grown, then you probably have 206 bones now. Much like the number and types of internal organs, we can call this question of science solved. Unfortunately, it isn’t always helpful to think of you as made of bones and other organs. For medical purposes, it is often better to think of you as made of cells. It becomes natural to ask how many cells you are made of, and then maybe classify them into cell types. Of course, you wouldn’t expect this number to be as static as the number of bones or organs, as individual cells constantly die and are replaced, but you’d expect the approximate number to be relatively constant. Thus number is surprisingly difficult to measure, and our best current estimate is…

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