Simulating the Dynamic Intra-Tumor Heterogeneity and Therapeutic Responses

Cancers (Basel). 2022 Mar 24;14(7):1645. doi: 10.3390/cancers14071645.


A tumor is a complex tissue comprised of heterogeneous cell subpopulations which exhibit substantial diversity at morphological, genetic and epigenetic levels. Under the selective pressure of cancer therapies, a minor treatment-resistant subpopulation could survive and repopulate. Therefore, the intra-tumor heterogeneity is recognized as a major obstacle to effective treatment. In this paper, we propose a stochastic clonal expansion model to simulate the dynamic evolution of tumor subpopulations and the therapeutic effect at different times during tumor progression. The model is incorporated in the CES webserver, for the convenience of simulation according to initial user input. Based on this model, we investigate the influence of various factors on tumor progression and treatment consequences and present conclusions drawn from observations, highlighting the importance of treatment timing. The model provides an intuitive illustration to deepen the understanding of temporal intra-tumor heterogeneity dynamics and treatment responses, thus helping the improvement of personalized diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.

Keywords: clonal evolution; simulation model; targeted therapy; treatment outcomes; tumor heterogeneity.