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The Mathematics of the Tumor

Cancer is "an evolutionary disease," writes Carl Zimmer at the New York Times. Treat it with one drug, see an improvement, but then it finds a way around the treatment to recur. Johns Hopkins University's Bert Vogelstein, he adds, is using mathematics to model such resistances and recurrence.

Vogelstein and his colleagues report in the journal eLife this week that their model indicates that dual therapy can lead to control if the disease, if there isn't one genetic mutation that can lead to resistance to both drugs, and that simultaneous treatment with two drugs is more effective than sequential treatment. "The realization of the advantages of simultaneous vs sequential dual therapy will hopefully stimulate efforts to combine agents much earlier in the drug development process," they note.