Cancer is a complex, dynamical system wherein transitions across scales are non-linear. Each transition, such as the decision to express a certain gene product, is governed by a cells’ content and history in response to local microenvironmental signals. Hence, cancer is an open system, as the cancer is in communication with the local environment, which can be manipulated. These microenvironments select for specific cellular phenotypes and hence, resident clades of cells are often heterogeneously distributed within sub-regions (“habitats”) of individual tumors; which can be defined by in-vivo and ex-vivo imaging. We investigate therapeutically actionable consequences of microenvironmental heterogeneity. Specifically, we will investigate: Aim 1, tumor oxygenation, which can be targeted with specific hypoxia-activated pro-drugs; Aim 2, metabolic heterogeneity and tumor acidity, which can be targeted by specific metabolic inhibitors and buffer therapies. Specifically we will follow promising preliminary data to investigate their impact on immune therapies; and, in response to a new trial in Project 2, Aim 3 will examine the effect of hormone-deprivation therapies on tumor-stromal interactions. Because these dynamics are complex and non-linear, we will deploy application-specific mathematical models that are developed through integration with the Bench-to-Beside Core. These models and the experiments that inform them will be iteratively improved over the course of this grant with the goal of developing novel approaches based on Evolutionary Dynamics, which can be handed off to Project 2, and integrated into novel clinical trials.


Project Leadership: Robert Gatenby, M.D.; Robert Gillies, Ph.D.; Alexander Anderson, Ph.D.; Ariosto Silva, Ph.D.





"Exploiting evolutionary principles to prolong tumor control in preclinical models of breast cancer."

Enriquez-Navas PM, Kam Y, Das T, Hassan S, Silva A, Foroutan P, Ruiz E, Martinez G, Minton S, Gillies RJ, Gatenby RA.

Sci Transl Med. 2016 Feb 24;8(327):327ra24. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aad7842.

PMID: 26912903 


"Application of Evolutionary Principles to Cancer Therapy."

Enriquez-Navas PM, Wojtkowiak JW, Gatenby RA.

Cancer Res. 2015 Nov 15;75(22):4675-80. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-15-1337. Review.

PMID: 26527288 


"Cancer treatment as a game: integrating evolutionary game theory into the optimal control of chemotherapy."

Orlando PA, Gatenby RA, Brown JS.

Phys Biol. 2012 Dec;9(6):065007. doi: 10.1088/1478-3975/9/6/065007.

PMID: 23197192


"Environment-mediated drug resistance: a major contributor to minimal residual disease."

Meads MB, Gatenby RA, Dalton WS.

Nat Rev Cancer. 2009 Sep;9(9):665-74. doi: 10.1038/nrc2714. Review.

PMID: 19693095


"Adaptive therapy."

Gatenby RA, Silva AS, Gillies RJ, Frieden BR.

Cancer Res. 2009 Jun 1;69(11):4894-903. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-3658.

PMID: 19487300


"Glycolysis in cancer: a potential target for therapy."

Gatenby RA, Gillies RJ.

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2007;39(7-8):1358-66. Review.

PMID: 17499003