Can we simulate colon cancer?
Colon cancer is one of the top causes of cancer deaths in the world.
Visual screening for pre-cancerous lesions is a great preventative, however, lesions with the serrated profile are hard to detect so are more likely to progress into malignancy.
Cancers start when mutations accumulate in the Crypts of Lieberkuhn - the pore-like structures in the intestinal wall. Currently, biologists can only examine bowel tissue in static images - severely limiting the range of questions that can be answered.
In my work, I am modelling the crypt in the hope of identifying which factors lead to the serrated appearance of mutated crypts. This involves using an agent-based model to approximate the mechanical and behavioural interactions between cells. With a simplified model, we can then interrogate the behaviour of the crypt in ways that are impossible in real life, and eventually produce predictions that can be tested in the lab.
Phillip James Brown