In Silico Oncology: Quantification of the In Vivo Antitumor Efficacy of Cisplatin-Based Doublet Therapy in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) through a Multiscale Mechanistic Model

PLoS Comput Biol. 2016 Sep 22;12(9):e1005093. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005093. eCollection 2016 Sep.


The 5-year survival of non-small cell lung cancer patients can be as low as 1% in advanced stages. For patients with resectable disease, the successful choice of preoperative chemotherapy is critical to eliminate micrometastasis and improve operability. In silico experimentations can suggest the optimal treatment protocol for each patient based on their own multiscale data. A determinant for reliable predictions is the a priori estimation of the drugs' cytotoxic efficacy on cancer cells for a given treatment. In the present work a mechanistic model of cancer response to treatment is applied for the estimation of a plausible value range of the cell killing efficacy of various cisplatin-based doublet regimens. Among others, the model incorporates the cancer related mechanism of uncontrolled proliferation, population heterogeneity, hypoxia and treatment resistance. The methodology is based on the provision of tumor volumetric data at two time points, before and after or during treatment. It takes into account the effect of tumor microenvironment and cell repopulation on treatment outcome. A thorough sensitivity analysis based on one-factor-at-a-time and latin hypercube sampling/partial rank correlation coefficient approaches has established the volume growth rate and the growth fraction at diagnosis as key features for more accurate estimates. The methodology is applied on the retrospective data of thirteen patients with non-small cell lung cancer who received cisplatin in combination with gemcitabine, vinorelbine or docetaxel in the neoadjuvant context. The selection of model input values has been guided by a comprehensive literature survey on cancer-specific proliferation kinetics. The latin hypercube sampling has been recruited to compensate for patient-specific uncertainties. Concluding, the present work provides a quantitative framework for the estimation of the in-vivo cell-killing ability of various chemotherapies. Correlation studies of such estimates with the molecular profile of patients could serve as a basis for reliable personalized predictions.

Grant support

The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreements n° 223979-“ContraCancrum” (, 270089-“p-medicine” (, 600841- “CHIC” (, 600929-“MyHealthAvatar” ( and 600852-“DR THERAPAT” ( The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.