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Modelling the Tumour Microenvironment, but What Exactly Do We Mean by “Model”?

Reyes Aldasoro, C. C. ORCID: 0000-0002-9466-2018 (2023). Modelling the Tumour Microenvironment, but What Exactly Do We Mean by “Model”?. Cancers, 15(15), article number 3796. doi: 10.3390/cancers15153796


The Oxford English Dictionary includes 17 definitions for the word “model” as a noun and another 11 as a verb. Therefore, context is necessary to understand the meaning of the word model. For instance, “model railways” refer to replicas of railways and trains at a smaller scale and a “model student” refers to an exemplary individual. In some cases, a specific context, like cancer research, may not be sufficient to provide one specific meaning for model. Even if the context is narrowed, specifically, to research related to the tumour microenvironment, “model” can be understood in a wide variety of ways, from an animal model to a mathematical expression. This paper presents a review of different “models” of the tumour microenvironment, as grouped by different definitions of the word into four categories: model organisms, in vitro models, mathematical models and computational models. Then, the frequencies of different meanings of the word “model” related to the tumour microenvironment are measured from numbers of entries in the MEDLINE database of the United States National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. The frequencies of the main components of the microenvironment and the organ-related cancers modelled are also assessed quantitatively with specific keywords. Whilst animal models, particularly xenografts and mouse models, are the most commonly used “models”, the number of these entries has been slowly decreasing. Mathematical models, as well as prognostic and risk models, follow in frequency, and these have been growing in use.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2023 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Publisher Keywords: tumour microenvironment; model organism; in vivo model; in vitro model; mathematical model; computational model
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology (including Cancer)
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Computer Science
SWORD Depositor:
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