Simulating your cancer treatment on a computer

Simulating Your Cancer Treatment On A Computer article is one related to these Health and Medical Updates class, written just after our author Linda Norton just as February 6, 2019, this section probably want to search by that hastag cancer, computer, Simulating, treatment. We are pleasant to blissful you as well providing these other article about health along with I am always updating these paper everyday.


Arnoldo Frigessi is the main person behind the new idea of making tens of thousands of virtual copies of the individual cancer patient and then testing all the treatments in a simulation model to find the most optimal treatment. Credit: Ola Sæther

In ten years, computers will be able to propose the most suitable cancer treatment for you. The idea is to simulate how all possible combinations of existing cancer treatments will work on your particular tumour.

Each year, 10,000 Norwegians die of cancer. Researchers at the University of Oslo are now developing a computer program that can help oncologists find the best personalised treatment for each patient. The hope is to be able to cure far more patients.

One of the most common cancer diseases with poor prognoses is lung cancer. Each year, 3,000 are diagnosed with this sinister disease. 2,200 die of it. In fact, lung cancer takes as many years of life as breast cancer, prostate cancer, and intestinal cancer combined.

“Although treatment has improved, we are still lacking tools to be able to decide the best treatment for the individual,” says Åslaug Helland, who is both a professor at University of Oslo in Norway and clinician for lung cancer patients at Oslo University Hospital, Radium Hospital.

Some of her patients start treatment with chemotherapy, others with immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is a modern treatment that stimulates the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer. Although many people get good help from immunotherapy, it only works for half of the patients.

“The problem is that we don’t know who benefits from immunotherapy. If the drug does not work after two or three rounds, we will try something different, such as the classic chemotherapies, but by then we will have already squandered time that could have been spent on other treatment. We therefore need a system that says what is the best and most effective treatment for each patient – and with the fewest possible side effects,” Åslaug Helland points out to the research magazine Apollon.

This is precisely the great idea of Arnoldo Frigessi, professor of statistics at the University of Oslo, who leads both the Oslo Centre for Biostatistics and Epidemiology and BigInsight, a centre for research-based innovation.

His idea is to use mathematical and statistical methods to develop a computer program that will propose the best cancer treatment. Arnoldo Frigessi is an expert in describing biological processes with mathematical models. He works closely with everyone from oncologists and pathologists to molecular biologists, statisticians and mathematicians.

“Today’s treatment does not help three out of ten cancer patients. The cancer cells can also become resistant to the drugs they receive. The drugs then need to be replaced. Might one of the solutions be to give the patient several cancer drugs at the same time?” asks Arnoldo Frigessi.

This is far more challenging than one would think. Imagine that your oncologist has the possibility to choose between 300 different drugs for a particular cancer disease. If the doctor is to choose the best combination of two different drugs from this selection, he has as many as 45,000 different treatment choices.

“This multiplies the possibilities to the point where it becomes impossible for the doctor to figure out which combination of drugs works best.”

It is not possible to test all the possible combinations of drugs with traditional clinical trials. In classic clinical trials, two groups of patients are compared. One is given drug A, the other drug B. However, the doctor now wants to provide personalised medicine to a patient group that consists of just one patient. This makes it impossible to carry out classic trials of different types of treatments.

Instead, Arnoldo Frigessi’s solution is to make hundreds of thousands of virtual copies of the patient and test all the treatments on a simulation model on the computer to find the best treatment.

Lung cancer expert Åslaug Helland believes that such a simulation model can change the future of cancer treatment. “We strongly believe that it can be possible to attack the cancer from different fronts at the same time. Then we need to know which combinations of drugs work best in each individual case,” says Åslaug Helland.

The combination of options increases even more by testing different doses and the order in which the drugs are taken.

“There are endless possibilities here, and there’s a lot we don’t know. The simulation model can help us determine which combination is the best treatment for the individual patient, rather than spending time on treatments that do not help,” Åslaug Helland points out.

This simulation model is a so-called…

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