Models of oncolytic virotherapy for treating small cancers [MCB]
Oncolytic viruses are genetically engineered to treat growing tumours and represent a very promising therapeutic strategy. A challenge to designing and implementing this technique is understanding the dynamics that leads to successful tumour elimination. In this talk, I will discuss two original approaches to model typical tumour-virus dynamics.
The first example example will be an ODE model that uses a Gompertz growth law for a proliferating tumour. With the aid of local stability analysis and bifurcation plots, the typical interactions between virus and tumour are investigated. The system shows a singular equilibrium and a number of nonlinear behaviours that have interesting biological consequences. Complete tumour eradication appears to be possible only for parameter combinations where viral characteristics match well with the tumour growth rate. Interestingly, the model shows that therapies with a high initial injection or involving a highly infective virus do not universally result in successful strategies for eradication.
The second model presented will be a Voronoi Cellular Automaton system, which is probabilistic and has spatial extension. In particular, the sensitivity of the treatment efficacy in response to the configuration of the initial treatment injections for different tumour shapes will be discussed. The model predicts that multiple off-centre injections improve the treatment efficacy, irrespective of the tumour shape. Additionally, delaying the infection of cancer cells by modifying viral particles with alginate, a hydrogel polymer used in a range of cancer treatments, appears to significantly improve the outcomes.
Associate Professor Federico Frascoli, Swinburne University of Technology