Using game theory to understand the physics of cancer propagation

March 27, 2012

In search of a different perspective on the physics of cancer, Princeton University and University of California, San Francisco researchers teamed up to use game theory to look for simplicity within the complexity of the dynamics of cooperator and cheater cells under metabolic stress conditions and high spatial heterogeneity. In the context of cancer, cooperator cells obey the general rules of communal survival, while cheater cells do not.

The ultimate goal of this research was to gain an understanding of the dynamics of cancer tumor evolution under stress. Since cancer can be likened to a community of bacteria, the researchers zeroed in on a simple bacterial model to examine the progression of resistance to drugs under high competition and .

Among their key findings: they discovered emergent cooperative outcomes between the two cell types after modifying their game theory framework to account for heterogeneous stress patterns.

Explore further: 'Policing' stops cheaters from dominating groups of cooperative bacteria

More information: "Physics of cancer propagation: A game theory perspective" is published in AIP Advances.

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not rated yet Apr 11, 2012
It's a long awaited idea. Game theory, in my view is very underrated in the eyes of life sciences. The last five years, however there is a promising trend towards applying the GT's key principles, such as Nash equilibrium, at the cellular and even molecular level. Cudos!

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