Cancer is arguably one of the most serious global health problems, particularly in developed countries such as Cyprus and Greece, where it exhibits increasing trends. One of the most active research areas related to oncological diseases is the utilization of advanced computational methods and tools for better understanding the underlying mechanisms, early diagnosis of the disease, as well as the optimization of cancer therapy in a personalized (patient-specific) context. This field is collectively termed computational or in-silico oncology and its importance has been recognized in several research initiatives in Europe (Virtual Physiological Human) and the United States (Center for the Development of a Virtual Tumor). Despite the undeniable progress that has been achieved, the wide use of such tools in practice has not yet been realized, partly due to the lack of validation of the mathematical models that have been developed with experimental/clinical data.
In the above context, the aim of the present project is to develop a framework that will develop multiscale dynamic models of cancer progression which will take account of several important factors, such as patient characteristics, the response of the immune system, metastatic effects etc, utilize these to design patient-specific optimal treatments which will take into account drug toxicity and the development of drug resistance and incorporate these in a computational environment that may be used by interested researchers in order to generate virtual scenaria. The project aims also to develop magnetic resonance and computer tomography image processing methods (segmentation, 3D visualization) in the same environment. Importantly we aim to collaborate with clinical and medical partners (Biology Department of the University of Cyprus and Photonic Imaging Group, FORTH-ITE) in order to obtain experimental data from animal models that will be used to extensively validate the developed models and treatment plans. The project is coordinated by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Cyprus and the KOIOS Research Center (G. Mitsis – Principal Investigator, C. Pitris) and it also includes the Foundation of Research and Technology (FORTH), Heraclion, Greece and the Technical University of Crete, Chania, Crete as partners.
Project official website here.