Cancer systems biology and modeling: microscopic scale and multiscale approaches

Semin Cancer Biol. 2015 Feb;30:60-9. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2014.03.003. Epub 2014 Mar 18.


Cancer has become known as a complex and systematic disease on macroscopic, mesoscopic and microscopic scales. Systems biology employs state-of-the-art computational theories and high-throughput experimental data to model and simulate complex biological procedures such as cancer, which involves genetic and epigenetic, in addition to intracellular and extracellular complex interaction networks. In this paper, different systems biology modeling techniques such as systems of differential equations, stochastic methods, Boolean networks, Petri nets, cellular automata methods and agent-based systems are concisely discussed. We have compared the mentioned formalisms and tried to address the span of applicability they can bear on emerging cancer modeling and simulation approaches. Different scales of cancer modeling, namely, microscopic, mesoscopic and macroscopic scales are explained followed by an illustration of angiogenesis in microscopic scale of the cancer modeling. Then, the modeling of cancer cell proliferation and survival are examined on a microscopic scale and the modeling of multiscale tumor growth is explained along with its advantages.

Keywords: Cancer; Cell proliferation and survival; Multiscale modeling; Systems biology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Neoplasms*
  • Systems Biology*