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Fighting Cancer with Math

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the what-can't-math-do? dept.

Math 263

zoloback writes "A group of scientists have developed a mathematical method to fight certain forms of cancer. The study has taken the team several years, but the first trial on a human has been successful. You can read the actual paper. It looks like a huge advancement in science, because there's a possibility to extrapolate the method to other types of cancer" From the article: "The researchers have evidence to show that all tumors grow in the same way, irrespective of the tissue or species in which they develop. In a previous paper, these researchers reported that tumor growth, rather than being exponential as commonly believed, is a much slower "linear" process similar to the growth of certain crystals and other natural phenomena."

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She cured my cancer with math (4, Funny)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691225)

But she blinded me with science!

I'm Dancin Santa, bitch!

Chinese Biological Weapons (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691263)

We should keep this startling medical discovery "top secret". The Chinese military has an aggressive program to develop biological weapons, including anthrax [phrusa.org] . This medical discovery would be a boon to the Chinese military in its quest to develop carcinogenic viruses.

Wow. (1)

Fookin (652988) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691227)

That has got to be the coolest thing I've read all day.

Reading articles like this makes me wish I had paid better attention in math class.

Re:Wow. (1)

urlgrey (798089) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691273)

Yup. Funny you should mention that because I had a similar thought as soon as I read the article, too. What hit me was, "Reading articles like this makes me glad I subscribe to /."

To the poster, contributors, and Slashdot creators alike: thanks.

Oh, and the users are sometimes OK, too. ;-)

Re:Wow. (3, Insightful)

lastchance_000 (847415) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691564)

That's all well and good, but, umm... can we toss a bone to the people actually working to cure cancer?

Thank you.

If this is true (2, Insightful)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691229)

If this works the way they say it does, then all I can say is that someone has just won a nobel prize.

Re:If this is true (1)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691300)

Seriously. First thing that crossed my mind reading the summary was "wow, that took some serious out-of-the-box thinking".

If this works, these guys deserve a world of recognition.

Re:If this is true (1)

SeventyBang (858415) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691443)


Current topics on the pet peeve list (so you made #1):


1. "out-of-the-box"?

An overused, misunderstood phrase. Were you by chance referring to lateral thinking? (see: Edward deBono)

_______________________

2. karaoke is not carry-okay. How people get carry out of kara I have no idea.

_______________________

3. And this is a Van Dyke [blogs.com] , not a goatee. This: this is a goatee [clayphotography.co.uk] .

Re:If this is true (1)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691480)

Weeeeeeee! #1!

Come on; english is my second language, but "out of the box thinking" is a common expresion for someone who attacks a problem in a completely new and unthought-before way. Relax.

Re:If this is true (1)

shreevatsa (845645) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691321)

Um, Nobel Prize?
There is no Nobel Prize in Mathematics (and it has nothing to Alfred Nobel's wife). [snopes.com]
But yes, the mathematicians might get a Nobel for "Physiology/Medicine". Cool! The only other Mathematician I know who has won a Nobel Prize is of course John Nash, for economics.

Re:If this is true (3, Informative)

greenskyx (609089) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691326)

I thought I'd send a quick response to this. You can't get a nobel prize in Mathematics [mathforum.org] . I'm not sure if they could get one with this research for medicine though. I'm guessing it's that possible. Peace.

Hell Yes (1)

mtrisk (770081) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691327)

From the article:

"By using a mathematical formula formula designed to strengthen the immune system, a team of scientists in Spain have succeeded in curing a patient who was in the last stage of terminal liver cancer."

A cure for cancer? By using math? Astounding! Unfortunately, the paper is rather short, and only speaks about the linear growth aspect.

Re:Hell Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691493)

Perhaps, but didn't it also state that nearly all forms of cancer share the same linear growth qualities?

Re:Hell Yes (2, Funny)

nacturation (646836) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691524)

A cure for cancer? By using math? Astounding!

This shouldn't be so astounding. After all, for many it's already cured insomnia.

Re:If this is true - unlikely (4, Insightful)

spitshine (259841) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691428)

The paper was published in 2003 and was cited twice in total - by themselves (I just checked Web of Science [isiknowledge.com] ).
If there would be a real advancement behind this, many people would use it. Sad but true, but they sound like quacks.

Re:If this is true (1)

Bender_ (179208) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691473)

Growth front analysis based on fractal theory is a pretty common method. It can also be used to describe advancing flames, the growth of thin films, growths of plants and bacteria colonies etc.

Its application in medical sciences may be rare - mostly because med. people are not really fond of mathematics.

Given the background of these methods I would be suprised if this was the first time it is applied to the growth of cancer. The article seems to be well written and pretty comprehensive though, thus it is probably worth mentioning anways.

If anybody is interested in further reading on this topic: The second reference in the articles (barabasy et al) points to the bible of fractal surface growth. This is all you need to start.

Could they elaborate a bit? (1)

Quebec (35169) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691234)

I fail to see the link between the math, the treatment and the cure.. could someone explain it to me?

Re:I can hear it now... (3, Funny)

mangus_angus (873781) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691260)

"Nurse quick I need 20cc's of the quadratic equation STAT!!!"

Re:I can hear it now... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691511)



But in the US they would say "Nurse, quick I need 21/32nds of an ounce of..."

Re:Could they elaborate a bit? (5, Informative)

zoloback (785676) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691275)

The breakthrough lies in the connection between the variables that allow a tumor to grow and the control that can be put over those variables, a lot of these were never considered before (such as barometric pressure inside the mass, and blood vessel proliferation).
This are easily controllable factors, so instead of treating the tumor by trying to kill the cells via radio or chemical therapy, they attack the factors that (in a mathematical model) determine the growth of the tumor, turning them into negative variables and therefore extinguishing the mass

Re:Could they elaborate a bit? (3, Insightful)

Hao Wu (652581) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691366)

... so instead of treating the tumor by trying to kill the cells via radio or chemical therapy, they attack the factors that (in a mathematical model) determine the growth of the tumor, turning them into negative variables and therefore extinguishing the mass.

Unfortunately some of the most promising drugs that work to shrink tumors are not improving survival rates whatsoever. They are, in fact, shrinking the tumors "like they're supposed to", but this isn't doing anything to stop progression of the cancer.

Re:Could they elaborate a bit? (2, Funny)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691364)

could someone explain it to me?

It's simple, really. The cancer can't survive if the host organism is dead. Therefore scientists have proposed boring cancer sufferers to death with complex mathematical proofs, hence killing the cancerous cells and preventing the patient from having to suffer the horrible death that cancer brings.

It is not the point that the boring mathematical proofs are a more painful death that the years of suffering at the hands of cancer and conventional treatments.

Medical applications of maths (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691434)

Since mathematics describes the natural sciences, there are many ways to apply mathematics to achieve medical benefits. The important thing is to make sure that the treatment is basically in harmony with natural law, rather than trying to work against nature.

For example, there are chemical substances that have been shown to cause cancer. For many of these chemical agents, the contribution to a risk of cancer is proportional to the log of the molar concentration.

But if you are familiar with advanced mathematics, you will know that the natural logarithm takes on both positive and negative values. If you carefully dilute a toxin to a superlow concentration, you can make the log concentration negative, and thus use it in a natural, safe, and effective treatment.

Sinple math (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691235)

1 pack/day + lungs = bad
no smoking + lungs = good

duh. fuzz those scientifics.

Re:Sinple math (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691336)

So, what's the answer when a non-smoker gets lung cancer?

Re:Sinple math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691393)

42.

Re:Sinple math (1)

beetlefeet (866517) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691405)

Blame their smoking friends whose second hand smoke they breathe? Seriously though, do many people actually get lung cancer without any exposure to cigarette smoke? (Or worse things in some specific professions) Maybe a very small number of people would, but people exposed to smoke are like multiple orders of magnitude more likely to get lung or throat cancer right?

Re:Sinple math (1)

datafr0g (831498) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691446)

Check this out: http://www.txtwriter.com/Onscience/Articles/smokin gcancer2.html [txtwriter.com]

From the linked doc:
As late as 1920, lung cancer was a rare disease. About 20 years after the incidence of smoking began to increase among men, lung cancer also started to become more common.

Re:Sinple math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691577)

Lung cancer might not be the only kind of cancer. Since the 1920's... what kind of medical records did they keep in the 1800's btw? I wonder if the other cancer's suddenly appeared about the same time. I guess second hand smoke causes all of the newly discovered diseases too.

Re:Sinple math (1)

Seraphim1982 (813899) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691447)

Maybe a very small number of people would, but people exposed to smoke are like multiple orders of magnitude more likely to get lung or throat cancer right?

Only if you consider something like 40x to be "multiple orders of magnitude".

Cheers! (1)

zdr1977 (775284) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691238)

Cheers to this. From my perspective, we can't spend enough time researching cures for cancer...just my selfish perspective, I guess, but I've lost far too many family members to it already...

Nothing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691242)

Maybe with this new treatment, "Move Along, Nothing to see here" will actually have some relevance.

Re:Nothing? (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691487)

Maybe with this new treatment, "Move Along, Nothing to see here" will actually have some relevance.

Maybe if it's Ben Kenobi who says so.

"These aren't the cells you're looking for. Move along." (waves hand)

Not really (4, Informative)

fgl (792403) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691243)

Im very Impressed Im sure. But its not really fighting cancer with math, just creating a good model on how to repond with the treatments we have.

Re:Not really (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691356)

The paper is actually describing a model for how tumors grow and doesn't really have anything to do with treatments. But in designing such a model, one needs to identify the mechanisms responsible for the majority of the growth. The growth of tumors wasn't very well understood up to this point. The new model nails the growth correctly and all one needs do is look at what physical processes were represented in the model to determine what the driver for tumor growth is in patients. Then you simply design treatments that will attack those processes. Takes the guesswork out of tumor-fighting.

Interesting Application of Math (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691245)

In the current state of medical science, cancer was used to fight cancer (to use a cliched phrase). By irradiatiating patients with alpha and beta particles, weaker cancerous nodes would grow and use up the same resources as large cancerous cysts, eventually killing them off. This new method sounds much cleaner and safer.

Re:Interesting Application of Math (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691292)

Umm... yeah. That's how radiation therapy works. It isn't because of the fact that cancer cells, as their DNA is often times in an exposed, vulnerable state to to rapid division, is more succeptible to damage from the radiaton (or chemotherapy) dose than most non-carcinomic cells are.

Giving Myself the Finger (2, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691246)

I've been recovering from a broken finger the past month or so. I've studied the stemcell research describing the process. And what would otherwise be vague itching, swelling and aching instead resolves to actual awareness of incremental growth in the new tissue. I've modified the splint in feedback with the changing critical anatomical areas, and already have much more mobility than the literature describes. Before it's even completely healed. As we do more research on these self-organizing cellular growth systems, we'll be able to work with these tissues, facilitating their growth for maximum recovery with minimum risk and downtime. Theraputic stemcells are just the mannered cousins of tumorcells - we might very well live to see a day when they're all domesticated for our health, and even recreation.

Re:Giving Myself the Finger (2, Funny)

alpha1125 (54938) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691358)

Who needs stem cell research it for "recreational" use. I've got a mail box full of 'enhancing' growth pills. And I'm sure they didn't use stem cell research to get those 'doctor' approved pills to add inches etc...

If you want, I could forward them to you. :D

cheers.

Re:Giving Myself the Finger (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691370)

Thanks for suffering the pain to post on slashdot.

Re:Giving Myself the Finger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691440)

Theraputic stemcells are just the mannered cousins of tumorcells - we might very well live to see a day when they're all domesticated for our health, and even recreation.
Where can I get some stem cells to inject into my .. uhem .. to stimulate growth for recreation?

Re:Giving Myself the Finger (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691535)

shut your fuck up

if i ever meet you i will kick your ass

I was going to... (1)

locokamil (850008) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691256)

make an acid remark...but then I decided to RTFA. And I'm thrilled. I just lost an uncle and my grandparents to cancer, and I cannot help but pray that this works.

Nature is nothing if not clever (1)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691257)

Kind of like how we've designed the Internet to route around damage, Nature also routes around damage.

Every time we seem to be making progress against some virus or bacteria, it mutates and foils our efforts. Cancer has been one of those diseases which we have been unable to make very much progress against directly at all. If this new mathematical treatment can seriously pose a threat to cancer, how much are we tempting Nature to change the formula.

Sure, it seems like cancers are growing in a mathematical fashion. What happens when it grows randomly? How can we treat it then?

Re:Nature is nothing if not clever (4, Informative)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691373)

how much are we tempting Nature to change the formula

Cancer is an anomaly of mitosis; it is not an organism and therefore does not evolve. The body regularly squashes cells which go into a sort-of mitotic infinite loop, and that's the end of that. It's the ones that the immune system does not recognize that grow into tumors.

Re:Nature is nothing if not clever (1)

ketamine-bp (586203) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691534)

it does. there is selection pressure given everytime when tumor cells grow. e.g. immune system, chemo, radiation etc. so if you tried to treat cancer with drugs, chances are, if you do not eliminate them totally, what happen would be tumor cells expressing exporters of drugs.

in short,

(1) they reproduce
(2) they are susceptible to changes

==> (3) they evolve

Re:Nature is nothing if not clever (1)

klossner (733867) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691530)

Every time we seem to be making progress against some virus or bacteria, it mutates and foils our efforts.

Every time? What about polio, smallpox, diphtheria, tetanus?

Re:Nature is nothing if not clever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691570)

Polio -> Now diagnosed as Meningitis

Smallpox -> Vaccinated victims are diagnosed as "unvaccinated" because scar tissue from smallpox will typically cover vaccination sites

Diptheria -> 5000 deaths in Asia and Africa alone last year

Tetanus -> Almost 200,000 deaths worldwide in 2002

Where's your vaccination god now?

A joke... (5, Funny)

MagicDude (727944) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691265)

Remind me of the joke on how mathematicians fight fire...

A physicist, an engineer, and a mathematician are staying in a hotel in separate rooms. A fire breaks out in the physicist's bathroom. The physicist wakes up, sees the fire, does some calculations on his calculator, fills a cup of water, and throws it at the base of the fire putting it out while getting the rest of the bathroom hardly wet at all, and then goes back to sleep.

A fire breaks out in the engineer's bathroom later that night. The engineer wakes up, sees the fire, runs into the hallway and brings the firehose into the bathroom and lets the stream go full blast. After a minute or so, the fire is out, and the bathroom is soaking wet with water dripping everywhere, but the fire is out and the engineer goes back to bed.

A fire breaks out in the mathematician's room. The mathematician wakes up and sees the fire, does some lengthy calculations on paper, lights a match and drops it in a glass of water, says "It can be done", and goes back to bed.

Re:A joke... (2, Interesting)

jlseagull (106472) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691352)

The way I heard the final bit was:

"The mathematician wakes up in the middle of the night, lights a match, sets the place on fire, then goes back to bed, having reduced the problem to a previously solved one."

How I fight cancer with math (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691496)

I fight cancer with math, too. I have for all my life. For instance, I fight ovarian cancer by having a 0% chance of developing it based on my gender, race, and age.

No you don't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691509)

Gender is a culturally defined construct. Therefore your gender has nothing to do with your contracting aviary cancer.

Re:A joke... (4, Funny)

IntelliTubbie (29947) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691611)

A fire breaks out in the mathematician's room. The mathematician wakes up and sees the fire, does some lengthy calculations on paper, lights a match and drops it in a glass of water, says "It can be done", and goes back to bed.

A mathematician doing an experiment? Never! (And yes, I am one.) The mathematician sees the fire, notices a glass of water on his nightstand, proclaims, "A solution exists!" and goes back to bed.

Cheers,
IT

"noooooo... i'm melllllting..." (1)

Mr. Slurpee (97260) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691267)

so, what, i show a tumor some multivariate calculus proofs and watch it shrivel? big deal, that would make my whole body shrivel.

Re:"noooooo... i'm melllllting..." (1)

Hobadee (787558) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691454)

Yes, but just think of the possibilities! If we find the inverse of that formula, we can make things bigger! Just think, you could increase your penis size tenfold!

Against my faith. (5, Funny)

Seumas (6865) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691271)

I'm sorry, but my faith does not allow for medical/mathematical intervention. You must allow my child to die to fulfill god's glorious plan.

You can stuff all your "evolution" and "math" voodoo. Fucking heathens!

Re:Against my faith. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691347)

"You can stuff all your "evolution" and "math" voodoo. Fucking heathens!"

Ooo! Look!! Cancer!! I'm going to expose myself to radiation, that'll fix it!

Re:Against my faith. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691429)

Wow, is there a particular reason this guy hasn't been marked -100 troll yet? He only created a minor strawman attack against people of faith...

Re:Against my faith. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691472)

Coward! Do you speak without a name because you fear the wrath of MECHAJESUS?!

Re:Against my faith. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691527)

an attack against people of faith who sacrifice their kids or is that okay as long as some RELIGION says so...sorry you get the troll mod points.

Cancer Crystals (2, Funny)

cybercobra (856248) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691279)

What's next, a 'Grow Your Own Cancer' kit like those crystal ones? I hope it works better than the crystal ones do...

sound methodology... (5, Funny)

aendeuryu (844048) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691280)

1. Confuse the tumours with complex calculus.
2. When they're not expecting it, nab 'em!

Re:sound methodology... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691365)

You forgot:

3. Profit!

Reminds me of Wayside School. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691293)

Where that girl cures her mosquito bites by turning them into numbers.

Wake Me When (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691294)

we have a mathematical model isolating the immortal aspect of cancer cells.

Sad part of the article (1)

PissingInTheWind (573929) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691316)

"The patient responded well to the treatment immediately and has since made a total recovery and has returned to work."

I find it really sad to consider that a person almost died and that the "positive outcome" is that he returned to work.

Re:Sad part of the article (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691386)

What they didn't say is that he returned to work as a porn star who specializes in college cheerleader team fantasy vids.

Re:Sad part of the article (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691406)

Well, maybe that was best for that particular person, but I get your point.

Hey, you reading this. You are going to die. Subtract the number 68 from your age. That's a good guess at how much time you have left, but no guarantees. What are you doing with your life between now and then? And if you have to die in the next minute, are you going to be satisfied with the way you've used your time? If not, start changing now.

Bruce

Re:Sad part of the article (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691415)

31-68 = -37

Oh my god.

I'm already dead and have been for 37 years.

This must be hell? That would explain a lot...........

Re:Sad part of the article (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691502)

Hey, you reading this. You are going to die. Subtract the number 68 from your age. That's a good guess at how much time you have left, but no guarantees.

Damn, I'm already decades in the hole. On the bright side, someone who's 100 years old still has 32 years left!

Re:Sad part of the article (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691507)

Oops. That'll teach me to post while still jet-lagged. Insert mouth in foot - no, I got that backwards too :-)

Bruce

Re:Sad part of the article (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691554)

Also curious where you got 68 from, or did you mean 78? From this page [cia.gov] , life expectancy at birth for entire US population is roughly 78 years. For the world, it's a dimmer 64 years though I'd suspect similar numbers to the US figures for most first-world countries.

Re:Sad part of the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691407)

Worker Citizen #19281233 has returned to his desk and has resumed his glorious Duties. How can one not be pleased?

Re:Sad part of the article (1)

kevinatilusa (620125) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691565)

"I find it really sad to consider that a person almost died and that the "positive outcome" is that he returned to work."

Would you have preferred it if the outcome was "The patient responded well to the treatment immediately, but was unable to regain enough of his normal life to return to work"?

I have a better idea. (0)

SeventyBang (858415) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691320)


My personal wager is we'll find stem cells are responsible for cancer. Stem cells can be turned into or grown into any other cells.

Consider that along with unchecked growth, wasting with blood-fed tumors, etc.

Also, "Plague Time" makes a good case for bacteria and many diseases, including cancer.

I'll suggest you read it if you aren't familiar with it.

3.141592654 (5, Funny)

Kinky Bass Junk (880011) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691322)

Now fighting cancer is easy as pi!

Re:3.141592654 (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691484)

I already told you, It's not a tu-mah!

more in depth links... (3, Insightful)

kesuki (321456) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691337)

http://www.hypography.com/article.cfm?id=34220 [hypography.com]

http://physics.about.com/b/a/088887.htm [about.com]

the blog entry that they linked to was kinda vauge on details ;) turns out the only math the used was in calculating how tumours grow, and how they prevent immune responses, so they figured out an immune system response they can trigger that will cause the cells that cause tumours to grow to become a 'target' of the patients immune system. no math equasion used to 'cure' it at all, just a little deductive reasoning and science...

Re:more in depth links... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691385)

They're the same (very good) article... text is below.

TO STOP TUMORS, KNOW HOW THEY GROW
Stimulating the immune system in a certain way can cause immune-system cells to surround tumors and stop them from growing, researchers have found (Antonio Br? Espino, Environmental Sciences Research Center, Spanish Research Council, antonio.bru@ccma.csic.es,).

Demonstrated in mice, the finding is a direct result of applying a new universal model of tumor growth developed over the last ten years in a collaboration between scientists at the Spanish Research Council and medical research centers in Spain. The researchers have evidence to show that all tumors grow in the same way, irrespective of the tissue or species in which they develop (Br? et al., Biophysical Journal, November 2003).

In a previous paper, these researchers reported that tumor growth, rather than being exponential as commonly believed, is a much slower "linear" process similar to the growth of certain crystals and other natural phenomena (Br? et al., Phys. Rev. Lett, 2 November 1998).

Tumor cells, they have found, grow through the diffusion or migration of cancer cells at the tumor's outer edges. Only the cells close to the edge of the tumor proliferate--those inside the tumor do not, contrary to previous assumptions. According to the researchers' observations, cells formed at the edge of the tumor diffuse at the border of the tumor mass until they settle in curved depressions where the competition for space is lowest and where they are best protected from the immune system.

In their new paper, Br? and co-workers show that the mechanical pressure exerted by immune-system cells known as "neutrophils" around mouse tumors can prevent the diffusion of these cells and thus prevent tumor growth. In 16 mice with a tumor mass in the muscle, the researchers induced neutrophil production by administering an immune system booster known as GM-CSF over two months.

In a short time, they observed that GM-CSF altered the growth dynamics of the cells. The tumors of two mice regressed completely and 80-90% tumor-cell death was seen in the rest. If the growth dynamics of tumors are universal, there is every reason to be hopeful the same result could be obtained in humans. Knowing how tumors grow, by cell diffusion at the surface, opens up the possibility of developing new and far more efficient ways of preventing their enlargement and spread. (Bru et al., Physical Review Letters, upcoming)

fa1lz0rs (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691362)

Or chair, return I burnt 0ut. I you should bring of the above dim. If *BSD is one common goal - notorious OpenBSD to the crowd in FreeBSD continues quarreled on

wow (0, Offtopic)

Ichigo Kurosaki (886802) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691424)

who would have thought that cancer could be solved using math?!! /sarcasm
honstly is this really news?

Re:wow (0, Offtopic)

Man in Spandex (775950) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691557)

Well, let me use my "SUPAR E LEET" statistics to predict how much slashdotters post "is this news?" per article:

# of letters in a linked article / how big an elephant's penis is in CM = how much pricks will post "Is this really news" redundant-like comments.

PRoblem Fuckin Solved!

It's the immune system that saves you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691438)

The paper says "mass grows and looks for space to avoid the mechanical response of both the host tissue and the immune response" and the article says that they increased the immune system.

Chemotherapy reduces the immune system to nothing, no wonder you go to a doctor and die!

We all have lowered immune systems because of the lack of vitamins in our food and all this processed crap.

It's the cancer centers and the damn chemical companies that make $$$ zillions on research that are holding all this info back while people die.

When the hell are people going to wake up?

its not (only) math (1)

cfx666 (887251) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691445)

No math can proofe that you can "extrapolate the method to other types of cancer". This can only done by good old empirical research. Sure enough is math the importend part in developing the model, but a model is not a cure.

Cfx

I remember in that movie "pi".... (1)

d474 (695126) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691451)


....there was a quote: "Mathematics is the language of nature."
So in that sense, cancer is beginning to lose the argument. I like that.

Cancer's response? : "I for one, welcome our mathematically well versed Overlords!"

YOU FAIL IT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691460)

a re!lativelY [goat.cx]

Interesting, since we have a general direction ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691462)

So, the say isn't exponential (x^n) it is linear, um 1 + 2 + ... + n eh? So, this is what you do. You get something that builds a small little machine that is controlled by a super computer. It directs the machine that is inserted into the body. Well this machine is like microsized with pinchers or something capable of directly destroying the cancer on a small scale. You direct the little micro machnes to the cancer and start zapping em. This is a pretty good start until it is better understood what causes cancer. Um, ... I think ... :)

And, I don't know why it is called annoymous since all computers log IP addresses ....

How the patient was cured (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691471)

From the article:

"create a treatment based on neutrofiles that strengthened the patient's immune system. The patient responded well to the treatment immediately and has since made a total recovery and has returned to work."

So it wasn't just math. Biology also helped.

No cure here... (2, Insightful)

hung_himself (774451) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691499)

From what I read in the article, they were just able to simulate something resembling real tumours using a linear growth model. But then the article itself says in the discussion that no one has ever observed non-linear exponential growth in real tumors anyways so people (with the possible exception of other modelers) have obviously taken this into account. Not clear to me whether any of the results from their model are novel nor are their assertions about the nutrient dependence of tumor growth convincing without some real experiments.

As a computational biologist, I'm not knocking the usefulness of these types of mathematical approaches - and what they seem to have is a nice and maybe even a correct tumorigensis model, but let's keep it real - this is far from a cure for cancer...

No serious study at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691500)

Results are just related to ONE person. You can not say "It works" just because it worked on one patient. You need to study more cases to be able to say "This new method is curing cancer".

It is not a serious research at all.

Not as "new" or "revolutionary" as advertised (3, Insightful)

cascino (454769) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691517)

This stuff's been done for years - just google "gompertz cancer" and you'll see what I mean. I was part of a team that developed a mathematical model for the growth (and cure - using a modified virus, but that's a whole different story) of multiple myeloma in immunodeficient mice. Perhaps they've applied a new model (I only glanced at the paper), but this certainly isn't the first time and it certainly won't be the last time research along these lines has taken place. A lot of very smart people have spent decades working on such research.

Of course it's great to see an advancement in science, particularly applied math, but those calling for the Nobel should take a deep breath and relax - cancer isn't going away anytime soon.

perhaps ... (1)

KillShill (877105) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691518)

if scientists purged their "common beliefs" before starting research, they wouldn't have waste 50+ years ASSUMING that it was exponential growth. i defintely didn't read the article :) but my point is sound.

maybe later they'll find our that the moon isn't really a dairy product as widely believed.

Go Spain! (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691519)

This has to be the coolest thing I've read on Slashdot in months. I will eat spanish food for a week in their honor and will buy twenty Euros and hang it on my cubicle wall.

We're looking at it the wrong way.... (0)

Palal (836081) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691526)

When those pimply infectious things pop up, do we try to go after them, or do we try to get the source - the infection? If you do the second, you are more likely to be disease-free sooner rather than later. Cancer, IMO is the same thing. Tumors are just the infected pimples popping up. Until we can find the source, controlling, not necesserily cutting out (as that does a lot of damage to the immune system), the tumors should be the biggest priority. Cutting out a tumor does not remove cancer.

dumbasses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691538)

This claim that these guys have cured cancer is completely bogus. Slashdotters don't know shit about medicine. They are so gullible. They'll believe anything any claim that math and computers alone can solve the most difficult problems. Real life is a little more complicated than that.

Still early days. (5, Informative)

scottZed (787286) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691575)

There is a follow-up article criticizing the original article: abstract [nih.gov]

And a response by the original authors: abstract [nih.gov]

In any event, it's a little premature to celebrate. Their follow-up work in mice (abstract [nih.gov] ) used implanted tumours. It is already known that tumours have the capacity to evade immune response, and we should not be surprised that implanting a foreign tumour mass into a host and stimulating the immune system will provoke a favourable response. The situation is more complicated when trying to raise the immune system to attack a tumour comprised of one's own cells. It seems to me that, at this point, they are trying to prove their particular growth model, not developing a de facto cure.

That their devised strategy worked on a single human subject is cause for optimism, and nothing more. That work has not been published (that I could find), so there is no way to properly assess the result. At this point, they are more than likely drumming up press to ensure continued funding for their research... not that there's anything wrong with that ;).

At last (1)

dark grep (766587) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691612)

Whew, that's a releif. I can go back to smoking 'backy in my asbestos pipe, get rid of the hands free of my cell phone, and start eating PVC again. Hurrah for science!

Some Background... (2, Informative)

KrackHouse (628313) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691616)

This is from an old article describing the results on mice...
Link [about.com]
"In 16 mice with a tumor mass in the muscle, the researchers induced neutrophil production by administering an immune system booster known as GM-CSF over two months. In a short time, they observed that GM-CSF altered the growth dynamics of the cells. The tumors of two mice regressed completely and 80-90% tumor-cell death was seen in the rest. If the growth dynamics of tumors are universal, there is every reason to be hopeful the same result could be obtained in humans."

And some detail on how it works...
"Tumor cells, they have found, grow through the diffusion or migration of cancer cells at the tumor's outer edges. Only the cells close to the edge of the tumor proliferate--those inside the tumor do not, contrary to previous assumptions. According to the researchers' observations, cells formed at the edge of the tumor diffuse at the border of the tumor mass until they settle in curved depressions where the competition for space is lowest and where they are best protected from the immune system. In their new paper, Bru and co-workers show that the mechanical pressure exerted by immune-system cells known as "neutrophils" around mouse tumors can prevent the diffusion of these cells and thus prevent tumor growth."

I'm too much of a damn pessimist to believe it's true after reading something similar to this just about every week followed by "could lead to treatments"... Here's hoping I'm wrong.
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