Rice University researchers have built a simulation to show how cancerous tumors manipulate blood-vessel growth for their own benefit.
Like all cells, those in tumors need access to the body's fine network of blood vessels to bring them oxygen and carry away waste. Tumors have learned to game the process called angiogenesis in which new vessels sprout from existing ones, like branches from a tree.
But some details have been hidden until now.
The ability to stop tumors through anti-angiogenesis is one goal of cancer therapy. The new work by scientists at Rice's Center for Theoretical Biological Physics should help researchers quickly test strategies with sophisticated computer models.
The team led by Rice theoretical physicists José Onuchic and Eshel Ben-Jacob created a detailed model of how proteins involved in angiogenesis communicate with each other and how tumors take charge of the protein signaling chain that controls vessel growth.