Modelling of killer T-cell and cancer cell subpopulation dynamics under immuno- and chemotherapies.

Publication date: Dec 27, 2019

Each patient’s cancer has a unique molecular makeup, often comprised of distinct cancer cell subpopulations. Improved understanding of dynamic processes between cancer cell populations is therefore critical for making treatment more effective and personalized. It has been shown that immunotherapy increases the survival of melanoma patients. However, there remain critical open questions, such as timing and duration of immunotherapy and its added benefits when combined with other types of treatments. We introduce a model for the dynamics of active killer T-cells and cancer cell subpopulations. Rather than defining the cancer cell populations based on their genetic makeup alone, we consider also other, non-genetic differences that make the cell populations either sensitive or resistant to a therapy. Using the model, we make predictions of possible outcomes of the various treatment strategies in virtual melanoma patients, providing hypotheses regarding therapeutic efficacy and side-effects. It is shown, for instance, that starting immunotherapy with a denser treatment schedule may enable changing to a sparser schedule later during the treatment. Furthermore, combination of targeted and immunotherapy results in a better treatment effect, compared to mono-immunotherapy, and a stable disease can be reached with a patient-tailored combination. These results offer better understanding of the competition between T-cells and cancer cells, toward personalized immunotherapy regimens.

Halkola, A.S., Parvinen, K., Kasanen, H., Mustjoki, S., and Aittokallio, T. Modelling of killer T-cell and cancer cell subpopulation dynamics under immuno- and chemotherapies. 25304. 2019 J Theor Biol.

Concepts Keywords
Chemotherapies Immunotherapy
Genetic Chemotherapies
Immunotherapy Medicine
Killer T Cells Clinical medicine
Melanoma Branches of biology
Mono Cancer treatments
Subpopulation Virotherapy
T Cell Immunotherapy
T Cells Genomics
Medical genetics
Cancer immunotherapy
Active immunotherapy
Targeted immunotherapy


Type Source Name
drug DRUGBANK Tropicamide
pathway KEGG Melanoma
disease MESH melanoma
disease MESH cancer


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