Modeling of tumor growth and anticancer effects of combination therapy

J Pharmacokinet Pharmacodyn. 2009 Apr;36(2):179-97. doi: 10.1007/s10928-009-9117-9. Epub 2009 Apr 22.


Combination therapies are widely used in the treatment of patients with cancer. Selecting synergistic combination strategies is a great challenge during early drug development. Here, we present a pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) model with a smooth nonlinear growth function to characterize and quantify anticancer effect of combination therapies using time-dependent data. To describe the pharmacological effect of combination therapy, an interaction term was introduced into a semi-mechanistic anticancer PK/PD model. This approach enables testing of a pharmacological hypothesis with respect to an anticipated pharmacological synergy of drug combinations, such as an assumed pharmacological synergy of complementary inhibition of a particular signaling pathway. The model was applied to three real data sets derived from preclinical screening experiments using xenograft mice. The suggested model fitted well the observed data from mono- to combination-therapy and allowed physiologically meaningful interpretation of the experiments. The tested drug combinations were assessed for their ability to act as synergistic modulators of tumor growth inhibition by the interaction parameter psi. The presented approach has practical implications because it can be applied to standard xenograft experiments and may assist in the selection of both optimal drug combinations and administration schedules. The unique feature of the presented approach is the ability to characterize the nature of combined drug interaction as well as to quantify the intensity of such interactions by assessing the time course of combined drug effect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacokinetics*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Colonic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Colonic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Drug Synergism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological*
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays