Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Computer Science


Dr. Mark Daley


In Canada it is estimated that 76,600 people will die of cancer in 2014. Cancer, a collection of over 200 diseases, has differences existing between globally, between individuals and overtime in one individual. Treatment options are similarly varied. These differences make selecting the best possible treatment for every type of cancer very challenging. In addition, with no single cure for cancer, treatments are often combined in different ways to form the best overall option. In an attempt to synthesize the properties of these diseases into a collection of common cellular changes, Hanahan and Weinberg proposed ``the hallmarks of cancer" -- 10 differences between healthy cells and cancer cells, present in almost every cancer. There exists the potential for treatments that are broadly applicable if they reverse these general properties. This work seeks to simulate early cancer growth, specifically looking at these hallmarks, and detect the best combinations of hallmarks to remove in order to stop cancer growth. This hybrid simulation combines a discrete model of cancer cells using cellular automata, with a continuous model of blood flow using lattice Boltzmann methods. Hallmarks relevant during the early growth stages of solid tumour development are simulated using rules in the cellular automata. Hallmarks were removed in pairs, triplets and quadruplets in order to model combination therapy, abstracting drugs that target these properties as the removal of the hallmark from the system. Overall growth of the tumours with ``treatments" applied were compared to tumours where all hallmarks were present. It was found that many combinations had no effect on tumour growth. In some cases combinations even increased growth, selecting for the most aggressive hallmarks since weaker hallmarks were unavailable. However, in general, as more treatments were applied, cancer growth decreased. This work is the first to simulate removing hallmarks in pairs, triplets and quadruplets from a model with biologically relevant oxygen flow. It provides a proof of concept that not all combinations are equally effective, even if the individual treatments are effective. This work suggests some combinations should be avoided while others could potentially be beneficial in a variety of diseases.