Scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, US, have developed a mathematical model to predict the better understanding of tumour evolution.

"This approach is key to improve the design of cancer therapies," said Kornelia Polyak, a breast cancer researcher at Dana-Farber.

Researchers combined several types of data from pre and post treatment biopsies of breast tumours to get a molecular picture of how the cancer evolved as a result of chemotherapy, said the report published in the journal Cell Reports.

The model was developed by Polyak and Franziska Michor, a computational biologist at Dana-Farber. The study analysed breast cancer samples from 47 patients who underwent pre-operative chemotherapy to shrink the tumour so that it could be removed more easily.

The scientists integrated data on the genetic and other traits of large numbers of individual cells within the tumour sample along with maps of where the cells were located within the tumours.

"We could predict which tumour cells would likely be eliminated or slowed down by treatment, and how this may change the tumour overall," said Polyak.

This information might help design further treatment strategies for patients who did not respond well to the initial therapy.


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