Mathematical modelling of tumour-induced angiogenesis

Addison-Smith, Elizabeth Anne (2010) Mathematical modelling of tumour-induced angiogenesis. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The growth of solid tumours beyond a critical size is dependent upon angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels from an existing vasculature. Tumours may remain dormant at microscopic sizes for some years before switching to a mode in which growth of a supportive vasculature is initiated. The new blood vessels supply nutrients, oxygen, and access to routes by which tumour cells may travel to other sites within the host (metastasize). In recent decades an abundance of biological research has focused on tumour-induced angiogenesis in the hope that treatments targeted at the vasculature may result in a stabilisation or regression of the disease: a tantalizing prospect. The complex and fascinating process of angiogenesis has also attracted the interest of researchers in the field of mathematical biology, a discipline that is, for mathematics, relatively new. The challenge in mathematical biology is to produce a model that captures the essential elements and critical dependencies of a biological system. Such a model may ultimately be used as a predictive tool. In this thesis we examine a number of aspects of tumour-induced angiogenesis, focusing on growth of the neovasculature external to the tumour. Firstly we present a one-dimensional continuum model of tumour-induced angiogenesis in which elements of the immune system or other tumour-cytotoxins are delivered via the newly formed vessels. This model, based on observations from experiments by Judah Folkman et al., is able to show regression of the tumour for some parameter regimes. The modelling highlights a number of interesting aspects of the process that may be characterised further in the laboratory. The next model we present examines the initiation positions of blood vessel sprouts on an existing vessel, in a two-dimensional domain. This model hypothesises that a simple feedback inhibition mechanism may be used to describe the spacing of these sprouts with the inhibitor being produced by breakdown of the existing vessel's basement membrane. Finally, we have developed a stochastic model of blood vessel growth and anastomosis in three dimensions. The model has been implemented in C++, includes an openGL interface, and uses a novel algorithm for calculating proximity of the line segments representing a growing vessel. This choice of programming language and graphics interface allows for near-simultaneous calculation and visualisation of blood vessel networks using a contemporary personal computer. In addition the visualised results may be transformed interactively, and drop-down menus facilitate changes in the parameter values. Visualisation of results is of vital importance in the communication of mathematical information to a wide audience, and we aim to incorporate this philosophy in the thesis. As biological research further uncovers the intriguing processes involved in tumourinduced angiogenesis, we conclude with a comment from mathematical biologist Jim Murray, Mathematical biology is : : : the most exciting modern application of mathematics.

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ID Code: 48804
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: McElwain, Donald, Harkin, Damien, & Pettet, Graeme
Keywords: angiogenesis, mathematical modelling, chemotaxis, blood vessels, VEGF, capillaries, stochastic, tumour angiogenesis, mathematical biology
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Past > Schools > Mathematical Sciences
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 22 Feb 2012 01:25
Last Modified: 22 Feb 2012 01:26

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