NEW YORK, Aug. 21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Mathematic studies at the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics (PED) at Harvard University, and funded by the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation, have shown that the most aggressive cells within tumors can be visually identified for elimination. These aggressive cells are the driver mutations that drive the tumor's growth. The study, which shows a topological map of what to look for when examining tumors, comes at a needed time in cancer research, for while tumor cells can be extracted from biopsy, it's very difficult to know which cells are actually causing the growth. And for inhibitor drugs to work, they have to target the most genetically aggressive cancer cells, amongst others.
The Program, or PED, studies the evolution of living systems with the use of mathematics. Much of their work focuses on the evolution of cancer and has significantly impacted treatment at universities across the country. Funding their work is an inscrutable New York private fund manager, called Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein established the PED in 2003 with a $30 million dollar gift to the university and his science foundation is one of the largest donors to individual scientists around the world including a list of luminaries such as Stephen Hawking and Nobel laureates, Gerard 't Hooft, David Gross and Frank Wilczek.
One of the great challenges of cancer is that tumors are genetically diverse, making it extremely difficult to tackle them with tailored inhibitor drugs. In 2010, the PED showed that even small solid tumors contain at least 40 to 100 genetic mutations within its structure, and that only 5 to 15 of those actually drive tumor growth. The findings highlighted the urgency for better genetic profiling of tumor masses beyond random excision, and the need to pinpoint the minority of tumor cell aggressors.
The PED's spatial modeling of how tumors grow however, now offers the first mathematically proven map of how to visually target the key aggressors within a tumor.
"Mathematics in medical research reveals patterns that are otherwise hidden and it's exhilarating when a mathematician can determine cellular behavior with the precision of an engineer," Jeffrey Epstein asserted.