Stein S, Zhao R, Haeno H, Vivanco I, Michor F. 2018. Mathematical modeling identifies optimum lapatinib dosing schedules for the treatment of glioblastoma patients. PLoS computational biology. 14(1):e1005924. Pubmed: 29293494 DOI:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005924


Human primary glioblastomas (GBM) often harbor mutations within the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Treatment of EGFR-mutant GBM cell lines with the EGFR/HER2 tyrosine kinase inhibitor lapatinib can effectively induce cell death in these models. However, EGFR inhibitors have shown little efficacy in the clinic, partly because of inappropriate dosing. Here, we developed a computational approach to model the in vitro cellular dynamics of the EGFR-mutant cell line SF268 in response to different lapatinib concentrations and dosing schedules. We then used this approach to identify an effective treatment strategy within the clinical toxicity limits of lapatinib, and developed a partial differential equation modeling approach to study the in vivo GBM treatment response by taking into account the heterogeneous and diffusive nature of the disease. Despite the inability of lapatinib to induce tumor regressions with a continuous daily schedule, our modeling approach consistently predicts that continuous dosing remains the best clinically feasible strategy for slowing down tumor growth and lowering overall tumor burden, compared to pulsatile schedules currently known to be tolerated, even when considering drug resistance, reduced lapatinib tumor concentrations due to the blood brain barrier, and the phenotypic switch from proliferative to migratory cell phenotypes that occurs in hypoxic microenvironments. Our mathematical modeling and statistical analysis platform provides a rational method for comparing treatment schedules in search for optimal dosing strategies for glioblastoma and other cancer types.

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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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