13.04 Quantifying Effects of Extracellular Matrix Mechanical Properties on Tumor Growth (cellMATh)

           Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES) | University of Texas at Austin/ USA

Research

Biomechanical properties of the extracellular (ECM) matrix play a crucial role in cell function regulation. In disease conditions, an increase of ECM stiffness promotes tumor cell invasion and progression and limits nutrient diffusion through tissue. The goal of this project is to investigate how ECM stiffness affects the evolution of a tumor by integrating mathematical modelling and in vitro experiments through Bayesian inversion methods. Mathematical modelling of biological processes has been acknowledged to provide new insights in understanding the mechanisms. Modeling coupled to Bayesian inversion methods allows for quantitative predictions of tumor growth which take into account measurement and model uncertainties.

We will first investigate effects of the ECM stiffness in the avascular case and test the influence of different levels of spatially homogeneous stiffness on tumor evolution and production of angiogenetic factors. Then we will study effects of spatial inhomogeneities introducing gradients in the ECM and solving an infinite-dimensional Bayesian inverse problem to infer the space-dependent stiffness. We will use an artificial vessel to investigate effects of the ECM stiffness on vascular growth. In both the avascular and vascular settings, influence of ECM stiffness under drug supply will be addressed. In the second case, chemotherapeutics will be injected through the artificial vessel, creating a setting which may provide insight for real life scenarios of intravenous administration of treatment to patients.

Publications

Team

Project Team Leader and Laura Bassi Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Mabel L. Rajendran
Chair of Numerical Mathematics | TUM

Doctoral researcher

Marvin Fritz
Chair of Numerical Mathematics | TUM

Doctoral researcher

Alican Ozkan
Cancer Engineering and Nanotheranostics Lab | ICES

Doctoral researcher

Sabrina Neumaier
Chair of Mathematical Modelling | TUM

Doctoral researcher

Pirmin Schlicke 
Chair of Mathematical Modelling | TUM

Principal investigator

Professor Christina Kuttler
Chair of Mathematical Modelling | TUM

Principal investigator

Professor Marissa Nichole Rylander
Cancer Engineering and Nanotheranostics Lab | ICES

Project Partner

Professor Laura Scarabosio
Department of Mathematics | Radboud University