Monday, September 14, 2015

The first ever mathematical model to capture cancer growth dynamics, published 2015...

Last week saw one of the most striking oversells of a paper I've seen in the recent past, and it frustrated a lot of people in my field.

The paper -

A spatial model predicts that dispersal and cell turnover limit intratumour heterogeneity

can be found here: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v525/n7568/full/nature14971.html

It is a spatial cellular automaton model (beautifully visualized) that looks at cancer growth and migration in a 3-d spatial context. The authors did a good job citing appopriate work (>100 citations) and never made any claims that were over the top. The press release, however...  well...  I'll let the twitter backlash speak.

I think the most striking thing about all of this was the the senior author, Martin Nowak, one of the fathers of evolutionary dynamics and most successful mathematical biologists in the world, came on to twitter to apologize for the Press Release (see final tweet). Class move.

At the end of the day, we have little control of the press releases for our papers. And, while we certainly all want to see our work publicized (how else can people find out about it?), seeing good work cheapened in some way by an oversold press release doesn't help anyone.

Anyways, here is a tour of spatial models of cancer, twitter style. #notthe1sttime