Using evolvable genetic cellular automata to model breast cancer
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- Bankhead, A. & Heckendorn, R.B. Genet Program Evolvable Mach (2007) 8: 381. doi:10.1007/s10710-007-9042-x
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Cancer is an evolutionary process. Mutated cells undergo selection for abnormal growth and survival creating a tumor. We model this process with cellular automata that use a simplified genetic regulatory network simulation to control cell behavior and predict cancer etiology. Our genetic model gives us the ability to relate genetic mutation to cancerous outcomes. The simulation uses known histological morphology, cell types, and stochastic behavior to specifically model ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a common form of non-invasive breast cancer. Using this model we examine the effects of hereditary predisposition on DCIS incidence and aggressiveness. Results show that we are able to reproduce in vivo pathological features to hereditary forms of breast cancer: earlier incidence and increased aggressiveness. We also show that a contributing factor to the different pathology of hereditary breast cancer results from the ability of progenitor cells to pass cancerous mutations on to offspring.