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Why do cancers occur where they do? A genetic and evolutionary approach

Periodic Report Summary 2 - EVOCAN (Why do cancers occur where they do? A genetic and evolutionary approach.)

Our project examines involves the study of how cancers develop, based on the view that cancer is a form of evolution. We are developing mathematical representations of how the cells in a tumour interact with each other, the environment and therapy. Early results show that a range of unexected tumour behaviours can be explained, including population crashes to the point of tumour extinction. In parallel with this theoretical work, we are developing complex mouse models of human tumours. For example, whilst we know that human cancers grow because they acquire mutations in specific "driver" genes, we do not know how often those mutations promote tumour growth or how the newly mutant cells in a cancer interact with the other cells (e.g. do they take over or co-exist alongside them?). Finally, we are looking directly at human cancers for evidence of the phenomena we predict from our mathematical models.