Robert Austin

Princeton University

"Spatial evolutionary game of cancer: Applying Physics to Cancer"

Abstract: Cancer is a complex condition with strong ecological elements, often consisting of stromal cells as well as cancer cells. Stromal cells provide protection from drug-induced apoptosis in cancer via secreting growth signals and further mediate cancer cell growth and survival under treatment. I'll talk about a microfluidic ecology which mimics the bone marrow ecology under chemotherapy, including extracellular matrix and stromal cells, drug gradients, and weakly connected micro-habitats, to visualize the dynamics of multiple myeloma and stromal cell interactions and the emergence of resistance. We model the observed spatial dynamics of emergent resistance using spatial evolutionary game theory, with (i) fitness as a function of population composition and drug concentration, and (ii) spatial coupling via diffusive migration and fitness-driven migration of the cells.
I'll show that the spatial structure of a complex microecology and the stress of chemotherapy transforms a prisoner's dilemma into a coordination game, and enables the coexistence of multiple myeloma and stromal cells within the drug gradient, and show that evolutionary game theory applied to two interacting cell populations can yield quantitative prediction of future densities of the two cell populations based on their fitness as a function of population composition. I believe that evolutionary game theory successfully predicts the future densities of strains of bone marrow stromal and cancer cells, and opens the possible clinical use of such analysis for predicting and controlling cancer progression.

April 11, 2014

This colloquium will be held at Walter Hall, Room 245, on Friday at 4:10 pm