REU 2012 – Modelling Cancer Stem Cell and Non-Stem Cancer Cell Population Growth

Each year cancer treatment in the US costs more than $120 billion, with over a million new people diagnosed with cancer. In order to improve cancer treatment techniques, researchers are studying tumor growth and behavior. The Center of Cancer Systems Biology has been working with a multi-compartment model based on the Non-Stem Cancer Cell Hypothesis. The Hypothesis proposes the idea that there are two types of cancer cells: cancer stem cells and non-stem cancer cells. Our first task was to simulate population growth and analyze the multi-compartment model analytically and numerically in MATLAB. We analyzed the sensitivity of the model with six parameters, and compared the proportion of cancer stem cells to non-stem cancer cells over different parameter values. We then analyzed the model.s steady states. We will proceed to develop a 2-compartment model that reflects the results of the multi-compartment model. The 2-compartment model will be more elegant and easier to use, and will allow us to further study the sensitivity of the populations and the age structure distribution of a simulated tumor.