How might maths be used to fight cancer?

How might maths be used to fight cancer?

A study from the University of Waterloo, Canada, has found that using applied mathematics can be a useful tool to help predict the evolution of various types of cancer.

The study used a type of mathematical analysis to look at how malignant mutations evolve in stem and non-stem cells in colorectal and intestinal types of cancer.

 A “roadmap” to cancer evolution

Mohammad Kohandel, associate professor of applied mathematics at Waterloo, said: “Using applied maths to map out the evolution of cancer has the potential to give oncologists a kind of roadmap to track the progression of a particular cancer and essentially captures crucial details of the evolution of the disease.

“Combining the ue of applied maths with previous research advances in cancer biology can contribute to a much deeper understanding of this disease on several fronts.”

What did the study find?

The researchers found that when cancer cells divide and replicate, the newly created cells are immensely different from the original cell.

This can have a substantial impact on cancer’s progression in a positive and negative way.

Using the mathematics method will therefore help to better predict cell behaviour.

Looking forward

The study concluded that using this type of analysis may be useful in the prevention of emerging cancer cells, as well as helping to develop more intense and effective treatments.

“Being able to predict the evolution of cancer cells could be crucial to tailoring treatments that will target them effectively,” added Siv Sivaloganathan, a professor and chair of the Department of Applied Mathematics at Waterloo.

“It may also help avoid the drug-induced resistance known to develop in many cancers.”

According to figures from the World Health Organization, cancer is the second most important cause of death in Europe, with more than 3.7 million new cases and 1.9 million deaths each year.


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