Speaker: Dr. Kathleen Wilkie
Department of Mathematics, Ryerson University
After a century of controversy and debate, the role of the immune response in modulating cancer progression is now a major focus of current cancer research. This controversy arises from conflicting reports implicating immune cells in, not only tumor elimination, but also in tumor dormancy, vascularization, and metastasis. We propose that the complex dynamics of the immune response to cancer presence may be understood as a process of immune stimulation by the tumor followed by cytotoxic targeting by the immune cells, which acts to alter tumor size and growth characteristics and subsequent immune stimulation. Just how these influences interact has complex implications for tumor development and cancer dormancy.
To show this, I will present a relatively simple modeling framework that captures the complexity of cancer-immune interactions and provides biological insights into the immune response to cancer. The modeling and simulation work leads to improved understanding of variations in cancer responses to treatment, of the nature of cancer dormancy, and of growth discrepancies between multiple tumours.