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Research Advances from the Physical Sciences – Oncology Network (PS-ON)

Physical sciences in oncology research supported by PS-ON has advanced the understanding of the complexities of cancer and the development of new treatment strategies.

Mathematical and Computational Modeling 

Using mathematical modeling, researchers with the Moffitt PS-ON Center found that tissue architecture determines cancer evolution. The findings reveal that tumor location plays an important role in the development and progression of cancer.  

Butner et al. with the Houston Methodist PS-ON Project developed a mathematical model that predicts responses immunotherapy in individual patients. This tool could potentially help oncologists in designing treatment plans. 

By integrating computational modeling and experimental approaches, researchers with the Dana-Farber PS-ON Center identified the optimal dosing schedule for a cancer combination therapy of osimertinib (an EGFR inhibitor) and dacomitinib (a HER inhibitor) to treat patients with non-small cell lung cancer. This dosing schedule is currently being tested in a Phase I clinical trial

Alfonso et al. with the Moffitt PS-ON Project developed and validated a computational model of tumor-immune ecosystem dynamics that predicts cancer responses to radiotherapy.

Cell Migration and Metastasis

Tabdanov et al. with the University of Minnesota PS-ON Center engineered T cells to enhance their 3D migration through complex tumor microenvironments, which may be used to enhance the efficacy of immunotherapies. 

Shah et al. with the Cornell and Dana-Farber PS-ON Centers revealed a mechanism linking confined cell migration during metastasis with DNA damage

Using an experimental model that mimics human blood vessels, investigators with the MIT PS-ON Project showed how the cancer cell glycocalyx (i.e., sugar coating) promotes steps in metastasis, specifically adhesion to and extravasation from blood vessels.  

Cancer Biology and Treatment

Researchers with the University of Pennsylvania PS-ON Project revealed a mechanism by which stiff matrix induces exosome secretion to promote tumor growth

Using computational and experimental approaches, researchers with the Columbia PS-ON Center found that a subtype of glioblastoma tumors are powered by overactive mitochondria and vulnerable to drugs currently being tested in cancer clinical trials. 

Rajurkar et al. with the MSKCC PS-ON Project found that 3TC (a reverse transcriptase inhibitor and HIV drug) disrupts the oncogenic functions of repeat RNAs and tumor progression in metastatic colorectal cancer.

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