Thursday, October 8, 2015

From concept to clinic: mathematically informed immunotherapy

From concept to clinic: mathematically informed immunotherapy

Abstract

Mathematical modeling has become a valuable tool in the continued effort to understand, predict and ultimately treat a wide range of cancers in recent years. By describing biological phenomena in the concise and formal language of mathematics, it is possible to elucidate key components of complex systems and ultimately develop tools capable of quantifying and predicting system behavior under given conditions. When these tools are applied as a complement to the detailed understanding of cancer biology provided by biological scientists and clinicians, new insights can be gained into the mechanisms and first-order principles of cancer development and control. To date, although mathematical tools have been applied extensively in understanding tumor growth and dynamic interactions between cancer and host, studies involving the theoretical modeling of patient response to treatment and the contribution of such findings to the development of clinically-actionable therapeutic protocols remain strikingly limited. In particular, despite the rising emergence of immunotherapy as a promising cancer treatment, knowledge gained from mathematical modeling of tumor-immune interactions often still eludes application to the clinic. The currently underutilized potential of such techniques to forecast response to treatment, aid the development of immunotherapeutic regimes and ultimately streamline the transition from innovative concept to clinical practice is hence the focus of this review.