Publications about 'cancer'
Articles in journal or book chapters
  1. M. A. Al-Radhawi, D. Del Vecchio, and E. D. Sontag. Multi-modality in gene regulatory networks with slow gene binding. 2017. Note: Submitted. Preprint in arXiv:1705.02330, May 2017 rev Nov 2017. [PDF] Keyword(s): multistability, gene networks, Markov Chains, Master Equation, cancer heterogeneity, phenotypic variation, nonlinear systems, stochastic models, epigenetics.
    In biological processes such as embryonic development, hematopoietic cell differentiation, and the arising of tumor heterogeneity and consequent resistance to therapy, mechanisms of gene activation and deactivation may play a role in the emergence of phenotypically heterogeneous yet genetically identical (clonal) cellular populations. Mathematically, the variability in phenotypes in the absence of genetic variation can be modeled through the existence of multiple metastable attractors in nonlinear systems subject with stochastic switching, each one of them associated to an alternative epigenetic state. An important theoretical and practical question is that of estimating the number and location of these states, as well as their relative probabilities of occurrence. This paper focuses on a rigorous analytic characterization of multiple modes under slow promoter kinetics, which is a feature of epigenetic regulation. It characterizes the stationary distributions of Chemical Master Equations for gene regulatory networks as a mixture of Poisson distributions. As illustrations, the theory is used to tease out the role of cooperative binding in stochastic models in comparison to deterministic models, and applications are given to various model systems, such as toggle switches in isolation or in communicating populations and a trans-differentiation network.

  2. S. Barish, M.F. Ochs, E.D. Sontag, and J.L. Gevertz. Evaluating optimal therapy robustness by virtual expansion of a sample population, with a case study in cancer immunotherapy. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 114:E6277–E6286, 2017. [WWW] [PDF] [doi:10.1073/pnas.1703355114] Keyword(s): cancer, oncolytic therapy, immunotherapy, optimal therapy.
    This paper proposes a technique that combines experimental data, mathematical modeling, and statistical analyses for identifying optimal treatment protocols that are robust with respect to individual variability. Experimental data from a small sample population is amplified using bootstrapping to obtain a large number of virtual populations that statistically match the expected heterogeneity. Alternative therapies chosen from among a set of clinically-realizable protocols are then compared and scored according to coverage. As proof of concept, the method is used to evaluate a treatment with oncolytic viruses and dendritic cell vaccines in a mouse model of melanoma. The analysis shows that while every scheduling variant of an experimentally-utilized treatment protocol is fragile (non-robust), there is an alternative region of dosing space (lower oncolytic virus dose, higher dendritic cell dose) for which a robust optimal protocol exists.

  3. J. Greene, J.L. Gevertz, and E. D. Sontag. A mathematical approach to distinguish spontaneous from induced evolution of drug resistance during cancer treatment. 2017. Note: Submitted.Keyword(s): cancer heterogeneity, phenotypic variation, nonlinear systems, epigenetics.
    Resistance to chemotherapy is a major impediment to the successful treatment of cancer. Classically, resistance has been thought to arise primarily through random genetic mutations, after which mutated cells expand via Darwinian selection. However, recent experimental evidence suggests that the progression to resistance need not occur randomly, but instead may be induced by the therapeutic agent itself.This process of resistance induction can be a result of genetic changes, or can occur through epigenetic alterations that cause otherwise drug-sensitive cancer cells to undergo ``phenotype switching''. This relatively novel notion of resistance further complicates the already challenging task of designing treatment protocols that minimize the risk of evolving resistance. In an effort to better understand treatment resistance, we have developed a mathematical modeling framework that incorporates both random and drug-induced resistance. Our model demonstrates that the ability (or lack thereof) of a drug to induce resistance can result in qualitatively different responses to the same drug dose and delivery schedule. The importance of induced resistance in treatment response led us to ask if, in our model, one can determine the resistance induction rate of a drug for a given treatment protocol. Not only could we prove that the induction parameter in our model is theoretically identifiable, we have also proposed a possible in vitro experiment which could practically be used to determine a treatment's propensity to induce resistance.

  4. A. Silva, M. Silva, P. Sudalagunta, A. Distler, T. Jacobson, A. Collins, T. Nguyen, J. Song, D.T. Chen, Lu Chen, . Cubitt, R. Baz, L. Perez, D. Rebatchouk, W. Dalton, J. Greene, R. Gatenby, R. Gillies, E.D. Sontag, M. Meads, and K. Shain. An ex vivo platform for the prediction of clinical response in multiple myeloma. Cancer Research, pp 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-17-0502, 2017. Keyword(s): cancer, multiple myeloma, personalized therapy.
    This paper describes a novel approach for characterization of chemosensitivity and prediction of clinical response in multiple myeloma. It relies upon a patient-specific computational model of clinical response, parameterized by a high-throughput ex vivo assay that quantifies sensitivity of primary MM cells to 31 agents or combinations, in a reconstruction of the tumor microenvironment. The mathematical model, which inherently accounts for intra-tumoral heterogeneity of drug sensitivity, combined with drug- and regimen-specific pharmacokinetics, produces patient-specific predictions of clinical response 5 days post-biopsy.

  5. E.D. Sontag. A dynamical model of immune responses to antigen presentation predicts different regions of tumor or pathogen elimination. Cell Systems, 4:231-241, 2017. [PDF] Keyword(s): scale invariance, fold change detection, T cells, incoherent feedforward loops, immunology, cancer.
    Since the early 1990s, many authors have independently suggested that self/nonself recognition by the immune system might be modulated by the rates of change of antigen challenges. This paper introduces an extremely simple and purely conceptual mathematical model that allows dynamic discrimination of immune challenges. The main component of the model is a motif which is ubiquitous in systems biology, the incoherent feedforward loop, which endows the system with the capability to estimate exponential growth exponents, a prediction which is consistent with experimental work showing that exponentially increasing antigen stimulation is a determinant of immune reactivity. Combined with a bistable system and a simple feedback repression mechanism, an interesting phenomenon emerges as a tumor growth rate increases: elimination, tolerance (tumor growth), again elimination, and finally a second zone of tolerance (tumor escape). This prediction from our model is analogous to the ``two-zone tumor tolerance'' phenomenon experimentally validated since the mid 1970s. Moreover, we provide a plausible biological instantiation of our circuit using combinations of regulatory and effector T cells.

  6. S. Prabakaran, J. Gunawardena, and E.D. Sontag. Paradoxical results in perturbation-based signaling network reconstruction. Biophysical Journal, 106:2720-2728, 2014. [PDF]
    This paper describes a potential pitfall of perturbation-based approaches to network inference It is shows experimentally, and then explained mathematically, how even in the simplest signaling systems, perturbation methods may lead to paradoxical conclusions: for any given pair of two components X and Y, and depending upon the specific intervention on Y, either an activation or a repression of X could be inferred. The experiments are performed in an in vitro minimal system, thus isolating the effect and showing that it cannot be explained by feedbacks due to unknown intermediates; this system utilizes proteins from a pathway in mammalian (and other eukaryotic) cells that play a central role in proliferation, gene expression, differentiation, mitosis, cell survival, and apoptosis and is a perturbation target of contemporary therapies for various types of cancers. The results show that the simplistic view of intracellular signaling networks being made up of activation and repression links is seriously misleading, and call for a fundamental rethinking of signaling network analysis and inference methods.

  7. L. Liu, G. Duclos, B. Sun, J. Lee, A. Wu, Y. Kam, E.D. Sontag, H.A. Stone, J.C. Sturm, R.A. Gatenby, and R.H. Austin. Minimization of thermodynamic costs in cancer cell invasion. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 110:1686-1691, 2013. [PDF] Keyword(s): chemotaxis, cancer, metastasis.
    This paper shows that metastatic breast cancer cells cooperatively invade a 3D collagen matrix while following a glucose gradient. The front cell leadership is dynamic, and invading cells act in a cooperative manner by exchanging leaders in the invading front.

  8. T. Riley, E.D. Sontag, P. Chen, and A. Levine. The transcriptional regulation of human p53-regulated genes. Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, 9:402-412, 2008. [PDF] Keyword(s): Hidden Markov Models, p53, transcription.
    The p53 protein regulates the transcription of many different genes in response to a wide variety of stress signals. Following DNA damage, p53 regulates key processes, including DNA repair, cell-cycle arrest, senescence and apoptosis, in order to suppress cancer. This Analysis article provides an overview of the current knowledge of p53-regulated genes in these pathways and others, and the mechanisms of their regulation. In addition, we present the most comprehensive list so far of human p53-regulated genes and their experimentally validated, functional binding sites that confer p53 regulation.

Conference articles
  1. E.D. Sontag. Some remarks on immune control of infections and tumors. In Proc. IEEE Conf. Decision and Control, Dec. 2016, pages 2476-2480, 2016. Keyword(s): scale invariance, fold change detection, T cells, incoherent feedforward loops, immunology, cancer.

Internal reports
  1. E.D. Sontag. Two-zone tumor tolerance can arise from a simple immunological feedforward motif that estimates tumor growth rates. Technical report, bioRxiv, 2016. [PDF] Keyword(s): scale invariance, fold change detection, T cells, incoherent feedforward loops, immunology, cancer.
    Preprint version of "A dynamical model of immune responses to antigen presentation predicts different regions of tumor or pathogen elimination", to appear in Cell Systems 2017. However, the journal version does not include Section 9 on degradation-based IFFL's from this preprint.



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Last modified: Thu Nov 23 10:40:56 2017
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