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A theoretical analysis of tumour containment

Viossat, Y. & Noble, R. ORCID: 0000-0002-8057-4252 (2021). A theoretical analysis of tumour containment. Nature Ecology and Evolution, 5, pp. 826-835. doi: 10.1038/s41559-021-01428-w


Recent studies have shown that a strategy aiming for containment, not elimination, can control tumour burden more effectively in vitro, in mouse models, and in the clinic. These outcomes are consistent with the hypothesis that emergence of resistance to cancer therapy may be prevented or delayed by exploiting competitive ecological interactions between drug-sensitive and resistant tumour cell subpopulations. However, although various mathematical and computational models have been proposed to explain the superiority of particular containment strategies, this evolutionary approach to cancer therapy lacks a rigorous theoretical foundation. Here we combine extensive mathematical analysis and numerical simulations to establish general conditions under which a containment strategy is expected to control tumour burden more effectively than applying the maximum tolerated dose. We show that containment may substantially outperform more aggressive treatment strategies even if resistance incurs no cellular fitness cost. We further provide formulas for predicting the clinical benefits attributable to containment strategies in a wide range of scenarios, and we compare outcomes of theoretically optimal treatments with those of more practical protocols. Our results strengthen the rationale for clinical trials of evolutionarily-informed cancer therapy, while also clarifying conditions under which containment might fail to outperform standard of care.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics
R Medicine > RB Pathology
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Mathematics
Text - Accepted Version
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