Most physical and other natural systems are complex entities that are composed of a large number of interacting individual elements. It is a surprising fact that they often obey the so-called scaling laws that relate an observable quantity to a measure of the size of the system. The research developed by MOLAB researchers and coworkers describes the discovery of universal superlinear metabolic scaling laws in human cancers and has been published in the prestigious journal Nature Physics.
This dependence underpins increasing tumour aggressiveness, owing to evolutionary dynamics, that leads to an explosive growth as the disease progresses. The researchers validated this dynamic using longitudinal volumetric data of different histologies from large cohorts of patients with cancer.
To explain their observations they tested complex, biologically inspired mathematical models that described the key processes that govern tumour growth. The mathematical models predicted that the emergence of superlinear allometric scaling laws was an inherently three-dimensional phenomenon. Moreover, the scaling laws identified allowed to define a set of metabolic metrics with prognostic value, adding clinical utility to the findings.
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