Created by: Jesús Bosque
Issue 248: PET scans provide information of paramount importance to the clinician, but are also a powerful tool to access tumour metabolism for the researcher. Using pre-treatment PET images from patients with cancer, we identified how the hotspot of metabolic activity (marked in red in the image) reflects underlying processes that drive the tumour to more aggressive states. To model it, we used a PDE model phenotypically structured on the proliferation, where cells can randomly change their proliferation rate upwards or downwards with equal probability. The model shows that this variability progressively shifts the proliferation profiles to higher values, what is depicted in the image by the curves showing the successive distributions. Interestingly, the model described very well the traits identified in the data, therefore, we discuss that random phenotypic changes suffice to fuel the observed increases in tumour metabolic activity.