Academy at the lakes visit to Moffitt’s IMO

The department of Integrated Mathematical Oncology (and specially Heiko Enderling) is very keen on the idea that cutting edge research does not live in isolation of the community where it is produced. For that reason, we have been inviting high school students from the Academy at the lakes to come and see our work and facilities at Moffitt. Not only they get to see that maths and computer science are key in cancer research but, as you can see in the picture, that the 80s were the best time to be alive if you like fashion.

Cancer’s heterogeneity

As anyone reading this blog will know, the reason many of us believe cancer is such an incredibly difficult disease to treat is that it evolves in the Darwinian sense of the word. This evolution is fueled by intra-tumour heterogeneity so understanding how it originates and changes over time is an important question. There is no question that patients are different and that two prostate cancer patients will have different prognoses and require different treatments. What is less well understood is that even within a given tumour you will find different tumour cells with different properties, different strengths and requiring different treatments.

In this review, Alexander Gelfand describes the work that some groups, an including ours, have been doing in the last few years to understand and address intra-tumour heterogeneity. Certainly worth a read. It describes work from Habil Zare and colleagues to infer tumour heterogeneity in breast cancer. It also describes interesting computational work by Tzamali and colleagues exploring the link between microenvironment and heterogeneity (although I would also cite Sandy Anderson’s previous work in Cell in this regard).

Finally there’s work from Polyak on how treatments impact tumour heterogeneity and work from our group (including Dr. Jill Gallaher at Sandy Anderson’s lab) on how to deal with that heterogeneity in prostate cancer patients with bone metastases. Happy reading!

If you like to know what the image accompanying this post is about: it comes from our Clinical and Experimental metastasis paper and describes how different types of heterogeneity could lead to different results when treated.

Measles-virus denialist issues 100K Euro challenge to prove viral causation, scientist wins the dough after court hearing

Why Evolution Is True

I’ve never heard of woomeisters or denialists who solicit “scientific” challenges to their woo—and this happens occasionally when a creationist offers big bucks to anyone who can “prove” evolution—ever paying off. But this time it happened—after the courts intervened.

According to the BBC News, the Guardian, and the English language The Local.de, which provides news about Germany, Stefan Lanka, a German biologist who believes that measles is a psychosomatic disease caused by “traumatic separations”, offered €100,000 to anyone who could prove that the disease was caused by a virus.  This offer was made five years ago in an online advertisement. The original ad said this:

Because we know that the “measles virus” doesn’t exist, and according to biology and medical science can’t exist, and because we know the real cause of measles, we want the reward to get people to enlighten themselves, for the enlightened to help the less enlightened and for…

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DoD fellowship for Dr. Arturo Araujo

Good news some times come in twos. Last week we got news that we would receive funding from Moffitt‘s Team Science initiative to explore how to use mathematical modelling to deliver precision medicine to prostate cancer patients. This week we got confirmation that our very own Dr. Arturo Araujo will be receiving funding from the DoD Prostate Cancer Research Programme to continue his work at Moffitt developing an integrated multiscale computational model of prostate cancer metastases in the bone.

This is, of course, excellent news and we take it, not only as a recognition of Arturo’s hard work and talent but also as a sign of how much we can achieve when mathematical modellers and experimental biologists work together. In that respect Arturo (and myself) are lucky to count on the help of Dr. Leah Cook (at Conor Lynch’s lab). Their join work means that now they have a computational framework in which to accelerate the rate at which we can explore and optimise new treatments for prostate cancer patients with bone metastases.

Let the good times continue!