Intraneoplastic diversity in human tumors is a widespread phenomenon of critical importance for tumor progression and the response to therapeutic intervention. Insights into the evolutionary events that control tumor heterogeneity would be a major breakthrough in our comprehension of cancer development and could lead to more effective prevention methods and therapies. In this paper, we design an evolutionary mathematical framework to study the dynamics of heterogeneity over time. We consider specific situations arising during tumorigenesis, such as the emergence of positively selected mutations ("drivers") and the accumulation of neutral variation ("passengers"). We perform exact computer simulations of the emergence of diverse tumor cell clones over time, and derive analytical estimates for the extent of heterogeneity within a population of cancer cells. Our methods contribute to a quantitative understanding of tumor heterogeneity and the impact of heritable alterations on this tumor trait.

Related Faculty

Photo of Franziska Michor

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

Search Menu