"In a bid to help cancer care become more personalized, researchers are developing computer simulations of tumors to predict how an individual patient's cancer is likely to react to particular drugs."
Using computer simulations, or "virtual tumors," researchers from the University of Iowa College of Dentistry and a private company Cellworks Group Inc. have begun to develop a method that would lead to individualized treatment of cancers.
Immunotherapy drugs target the "immune checkpoints" that cancer cells often override, allowing the cancer to thrive in a patient's body without attack from the immune system. Unfortunately, many of these drugs have a fairly low response rate in patients (<20%). By making drugs specific to the genetic make up of an individual's tumor cells, researchers believe they can increase their effectiveness.
To make the drugs specific, genetic information from a patient's cancer cell must be loaded into the simulation and a response must be predicted. Then, live cells with the same genetic make up are grown in a lab and the drug is tested on them to see if the predicted reaction occurs on living cells. If the response in the live cells occurs the same way as in the simulation, the treatment will work for the patient. If not, more work will need to be done in order to align the model with the lab-produced cells.
Personalized treatments seem to be a current hot topic in medicine, and for good reason. The more personalized the treatment, the better the prognosis for the patient.