Nowak MA, Michor F, Iwasa Y. 2003. The linear process of somatic evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 100(25):14966-9. Pubmed: 14657359


Cancer is the consequence of an unwanted evolutionary process. Cells receive mutations that alter their phenotype. Especially dangerous are those mutations that increase the net reproductive rate of cells, thereby leading to neoplasia and later to cancer. The standard models of evolutionary dynamics consider well mixed populations of individuals in symmetric positions. Here we introduce a spatially explicit, asymmetric stochastic process that captures the essential architecture of evolutionary dynamics operating within tissues of multicellular organisms. The "linear process" has the property of cancelling out selective differences among cells yet retaining the protective function of apoptosis. This design can slow down the rate of somatic evolution dramatically and therefore delay the onset of cancer.

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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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