Publications of Eduardo D. Sontag jointly with J.L. Gevertz
Articles in journal or book chapters
  1. J.M. Greene, J.L. Gevertz, and E. D. Sontag. A mathematical approach to distinguish spontaneous from induced evolution of drug resistance during cancer treatment. JCO Clinical Cancer Informatics, 2019. Note: To appear.Keyword(s): cancer heterogeneity, phenotypic variation, nonlinear systems, epigenetics.
    Resistance to chemotherapy is a major impediment to the successful treatment of cancer. Classically, resistance has been thought to arise primarily through random genetic mutations, after which mutated cells expand via Darwinian selection. However, recent experimental evidence suggests that the progression to resistance need not occur randomly, but instead may be induced by the therapeutic agent itself.This process of resistance induction can be a result of genetic changes, or can occur through epigenetic alterations that cause otherwise drug-sensitive cancer cells to undergo ``phenotype switching''. This relatively novel notion of resistance further complicates the already challenging task of designing treatment protocols that minimize the risk of evolving resistance. In an effort to better understand treatment resistance, we have developed a mathematical modeling framework that incorporates both random and drug-induced resistance. Our model demonstrates that the ability (or lack thereof) of a drug to induce resistance can result in qualitatively different responses to the same drug dose and delivery schedule. The importance of induced resistance in treatment response led us to ask if, in our model, one can determine the resistance induction rate of a drug for a given treatment protocol. Not only could we prove that the induction parameter in our model is theoretically identifiable, we have also proposed a possible in vitro experiment which could practically be used to determine a treatment's propensity to induce resistance.

  2. S. Barish, M.F. Ochs, E.D. Sontag, and J.L. Gevertz. Evaluating optimal therapy robustness by virtual expansion of a sample population, with a case study in cancer immunotherapy. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 114:E6277-E6286, 2017. [WWW] [PDF] [doi:10.1073/pnas.1703355114] Keyword(s): cancer, oncolytic therapy, immunotherapy, optimal therapy.
    This paper proposes a technique that combines experimental data, mathematical modeling, and statistical analyses for identifying optimal treatment protocols that are robust with respect to individual variability. Experimental data from a small sample population is amplified using bootstrapping to obtain a large number of virtual populations that statistically match the expected heterogeneity. Alternative therapies chosen from among a set of clinically-realizable protocols are then compared and scored according to coverage. As proof of concept, the method is used to evaluate a treatment with oncolytic viruses and dendritic cell vaccines in a mouse model of melanoma. The analysis shows that while every scheduling variant of an experimentally-utilized treatment protocol is fragile (non-robust), there is an alternative region of dosing space (lower oncolytic virus dose, higher dendritic cell dose) for which a robust optimal protocol exists.



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Last modified: Sat Dec 29 20:09:29 2018
Author: sontag.

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