The identification of optimal drug administration schedules to battle the emergence of resistance is a major challenge in cancer research. The existence of a multitude of resistance mechanisms necessitates administering drugs in combination, significantly complicating the endeavor of predicting the evolutionary dynamics of cancers and optimal intervention strategies. A thorough understanding of the important determinants of cancer evolution under combination therapies is therefore crucial for correctly predicting treatment outcomes. Here we developed the first computational strategy to explore pharmacokinetic and drug interaction effects in evolutionary models of cancer progression, a crucial step towards making clinically relevant predictions. We found that incorporating these phenomena into our multiscale stochastic modeling framework significantly changes the optimum drug administration schedules identified, often predicting nonintuitive strategies for combination therapies. We applied our approach to an ongoing phase Ib clinical trial (TATTON) administering AZD9291 and selumetinib to EGFR-mutant lung cancer patients. Our results suggest that the schedules used in the three trial arms have almost identical efficacies, but slight modifications in the dosing frequencies of the two drugs can significantly increase tumor cell eradication. Interestingly, we also predict that drug concentrations lower than the MTD are as efficacious, suggesting that lowering the total amount of drug administered could lower toxicities while not compromising on the effectiveness of the drugs. Our approach highlights the fact that quantitative knowledge of pharmacokinetic, drug interaction, and evolutionary processes is essential for identifying best intervention strategies. Our method is applicable to diverse cancer and treatment types and allows for a rational design of clinical trials. .
©2017 American Association for Cancer Research.

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Franziska Michor uses the tools of theoretical evolutionary biology, applied mathematics, statistics, and computational biology to address important questions in cancer research.

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