Adaptive therapy

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Abstract

A number of successful systemic therapies are available for treatment of disseminated cancers. However, tumor response is often transient, and therapy frequently fails due to emergence of resistant populations. The latter reflects the temporal and spatial heterogeneity of the tumor microenvironment as well as the evolutionary capacity of cancer phenotypes to adapt to therapeutic perturbations. Although cancers are highly dynamic systems, cancer therapy is typically administered according to a fixed, linear protocol. Here we examine an adaptive therapeutic approach that evolves in response to the temporal and spatial variability of tumor microenvironment and cellular phenotype as well as therapy-induced perturbations. Initial mathematical models find that when resistant phenotypes arise in the untreated tumor, they are typically present in small numbers because they are less fit than the sensitive population. This reflects the "cost" of phenotypic resistance such as additional substrate and energy used to up-regulate xenobiotic metabolism, and therefore not available for proliferation, or the growth inhibitory nature of environments (i.e., ischemia or hypoxia) that confer resistance on phenotypically sensitive cells. Thus, in the Darwinian environment of a cancer, the fitter chemosensitive cells will ordinarily proliferate at the expense of the less fit chemoresistant cells. The models show that, if resistant populations are present before administration of therapy, treatments designed to kill maximum numbers of cancer cells remove this inhibitory effect and actually promote more rapid growth of the resistant populations. We present an alternative approach in which treatment is continuously modulated to achieve a fixed tumor population. The goal of adaptive therapy is to enforce a stable tumor burden by permitting a significant population of chemosensitive cells to survive so that they, in turn, suppress proliferation of the less fit but chemoresistant subpopulations. Computer simulations show that this strategy can result in prolonged survival that is substantially greater than that of high dose density or metronomic therapies. The feasibility of adaptive therapy is supported by in vivo experiments. ©2009 American Association for Cancer Research.

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APA

Gatenby, R. A., Silva, A. S., Gillies, R. J., & Frieden, B. R. (2009). Adaptive therapy. Cancer Research, 69(11), 4894–4903. https://doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-3658

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