Maths and the dynamics of cancer

An old question is not why do we go to sleep but why do we wake up again ?
Similarly multicellular creatures are made of an array of different cellular structures all of which are dividing and developing until death for whatever reason.
One cause of death which is feared is cancer. To some extent the puzzle is not that cancer develops but that normal physiological growth, tissue formation and preservation is the norm. For cancer to develop a sequence of events must occur and a series of defence or constraining processes overcome.
The mathematician is a brave person who through formulae, assumptions and no constraints of laboratory data can tackle the problems of biological processes. These modelling arguments are very important if not sometimes difficult to follow. The popular problem to tackle is the cancer process.
Weinberg reviews a new book on the dynamics of cancer by Steven Frank which grapples with this interesting approach to as yet an unresolved problem.
Weinberg (2007 ) Using maths to tackle cancer Nature vol 449, 978-81
Frank Dynamics of Cancer : Incidence, inheritance and evolution . Princeton University Press .

Martin Eastwood
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