Mathematical Modelling of Cancer Cell Population Dynamics
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Mathematical models, that depict the dynamics of a cancer cell population growing out of the human body (in vitro) in unconstrained microenvironment conditions, are considered in this thesis. Cancer cells in vitro grow and divide much faster than cancer cells in the human body, therefore, the effects of various cancer treatments applied to them can be identified much faster. These cell populations, when not exposed to any cancer treatment, exhibit exponential growth that we refer to as the balanced exponential growth (BEG) state. This observation has led to several effective methods of estimating parameters that thereafter are not required to be determined experimentally.
We present derivation of the age-structured model and its theoretical analysis of the existence of the solution. Furthermore, we have obtained the condition for BEG existence using the Perron-Frobenius theorem. A mathematical description of the cell-cycle control is shown for one-compartment and two-compartment populations, where a compartment refers to a cell population consisting of cells that exhibit similar kinetic properties. We have incorporated into our mathematical model the required growing/aging times in each phase of the cell cycle for the biological viability. Moreover, we have derived analytical formulae for vital parameters in cancer research, such as population doubling time, the average cell-cycle age, and the average removal age from all phases, which we argue is the average cell-cycle time of the population. An estimate of the average cell-cycle time is of a particular interest for biologists and clinicians, and for patient survival prognoses as it is considered that short cell-cycle times correlate with poor survival prognoses for patients.
Applications of our mathematical model to experimental data have been shown. First, we have derived algebraic expressions to determine the population doubling time from single experimental observation as an alternative to empirically constructed growth curve. This result is applicable to various types of cancer cell lines. One option to extend this model would be to derive the cell cycle time from a single experimental measurement. Second, we have applied our mathematical model to interpret and derive dynamic-depicting parameters of five melanoma cell lines exposed to radiotherapy. The mathematical result suggests there are shortcomings in the experimental methods and provides an insight into the cancer cell population dynamics during post radiotherapy. Finally, a mathematical model depicting a theoretical cancer cell population that comprises two sub-populations with different kinetic properties is presented to describe the transition of a primary culture to a cell line cell population.